Ikhwanul Muslimin, or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, Egypt is the oldest and largest Islamic organization. Founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1920, this group has influenced Islamic movements around the world with its model of political activism, combined with the activities of Islamic charities.
This movement was originally intended only to spread Islamic morality and good deeds, but became involved in politics, especially the struggle to get rid of British colonial control in Egypt and clean all Western influence. Today, although officially prohibited and subject to repression, the Ikhwanul Muslimin led the public opposition against the ruling National Democratic Party led by President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981.
The Muslim Brotherhood said that they support democratic principles. Their most famous slogan, used around the world, is: "Islam is the solution. After al-Banna's Muslim Brotherhood launched in 1928, established branches throughout the country. Mosques, schools and sports clubs became the place to sow a new cadre and membership grew rapidly.
In the late 1940s, the group is believed to have as many as two million followers in Egypt. And in the same period the ideas that have spread throughout the Arab world. Al Banna also created a paramilitary wing, the Special Apparatus, which joined the war against British rule.
The Egyptian government disband the group in 1948 because it's considered to attack British and Jewish interests. Soon after, the group accused of killing Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Nuqrashi.
Al Banna condemned the killings, but he was later shot dead by unidentified gunmen - believed to be members of the security forces. In 1952, colonial rule came to an end after a military coup led by a group of young officers who called themselves the Free Officers.
Muslim Brotherhood played a supporting role - Anwar al-Sadat, who became president in 1970 and member of the Free Officers had a relationship with this group - and initially work with the new government. But the relationship soon deteriorated.
During the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood tried to rejoin the political mainstream. Their supporters clashed with riot police in Egypt (2008) and the Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned and subject to re-repression.
Successive groups formed an alliance with the Wafd party in 1984, and with Labour and the Liberal party in 1987, became the main opposition force in Egypt. In 2000, the Brotherhood won 17 seats in the People's Assembly. Five years later, this group achieved the best election result for the moment, with independent candidates allied to it won 20 percent of seats.
The results surprised President Mubarak. The government then launched a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood detained hundreds of members, and instituted a number of legal "reform" to fight for their resurrection.
The Constitution was rewritten to specify that "the practice of politics or political parties will not be based on religious background or foundation"; independent candidates are prohibited from running for president, and legislation introduced anti-terrorism that gives security forces the power to detain suspects and restrict public meetings.
National Democratic Party (NDP) is also working hard to reduce the possibility of further opposition victory in parliamentary elections last November.
Continuing repression against the opposition is one of the main triggers for mass anti-government protests by thousands of Egyptians this time. Ruling party office burned.
The Muslim Brotherhood is blamed for fomenting unrest this time, but representatives of this group, Mahmoud Izzat, insisted that the grand rally this time is purely born out of dissatisfaction of the people.