Religious Revival vs Religious Extremism: blurred lines in Egypt

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History's Shadow

The remarkable rise and fall from power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since its legalisation in 2011 remains one of the most prominent talking points in the Middle East. Egyptian people, meanwhile, remain prey to the whims of their country’s ever-influential military, which overthrew democratically-elected Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi earlier this year.

In 1981, President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda with possible links to members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This came at a time when observers claimed Egypt to be going through a process of ‘Islamisation’.

What this term means is contentious yet, as early as 1978, it was enough to worry British diplomats. A Foreign Office cable reported that Islamic extremism was the biggest potential problem for Sadat, a Western ally. The rising popularity of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in student elections was particularly noted. The cable went…

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