May 31, 2019 | 10:00 GMT

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood senior members, including Khairat al-Shater (top left), gesture from the defendants' cage at the Egyptian Police Academy on the outskirts of Cairo on June 2, 2015.
(KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

As a staunch advocate of political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood has played a prominent part in society and politics throughout the Sunni Arab world for more than 90 years. Formed by conservative Muslim thinker and teacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928, the organization’s Egyptian branch continues to be the most pronounced, but the Brotherhood’s reach stretches across the Middle East and beyond. The group has inspired (or aligned with) the thinking of countless other Islamist groups across the Muslim world that oppose Westernization and secularization to some degree.

While many of these groups have a clear link to the original Egyptian Brotherhood, others do not. It is important to remember that the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups did not develop in a vacuum — they emerged from, and seek to represent, the segments of society that support a revivalist Islamic tradition. The Brotherhood’s message does not always resonate with more progressive establishments, and the group’s significance varies from country to country. The following graphic shows not only the level of influence the Brotherhood’s ideas have within numerous political groups in the Middle East but also the variance between them.

The United States under President Donald Trump has confirmed that it is deciding whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. Washington’s thinking is supported by the fact that some Brotherhood factions support violence as a political tool — usually leading to spin-offs. In the most extreme case, the ideology has fueled groups such as al Qaeda, which draws on the same conservative Sunni ideology but takes it to a violent extreme. More moderately — and more aligned to the Brotherhood core — the movement has spawned groups such as Hamas, which the United States already lists as a terrorist organization.

However, authorities in many Muslim countries have permitted the growth of Brotherhood-inspired parties as a moderate counterweight to more extreme strains. If the United States were to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, it risks effectively sanctioning the governments of its allies. Read the full article, Labeling the Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorists Invites Complications for the U.S.

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