Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


The Muslim Brotherhood is the most well-known and influential Islamist group in the Middle East and has been since its founding in 1928. The group has been condemned by the West, specifically the United States, for being too radical, as well as by other radical Islamist groups, who accuse the Brother hood of embracing democracy and denying jihad. This study aims to determine how the Muslim Brotherhood gained their influence and whether their existence has had a positive or negative effect on democratization in the region. Specifically, it explores how colonialism in the region allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to gain continued political influence, especially following the Arab Spring. To test the hypothesis that the political environment following colonialism in the region was the root cause of the rise of influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, I look at the group’s historical rise in Egypt and Palestine. I then explore the events of the Arab Spring and Intifada and the roles that the group played, both during the uprisings and in their aftermath. Once I have established their level of influence and political positions in and after these movements, I assess whether they have furthered democratization in the region or hurt it. I find that the political environment of remaining colonial elites following the end of colonization in the region is the most likely cause for the group’s increased influence and outsized role in shaping regimes following the Arab Spring. I then assess data collected in Egypt before and then after the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the presidency in 2012. Through use of Beetham et. al’s Framework in Assessing the Quality of Democracy: A Practical Guide and survey data from the Arab Barometer, I conclude that, despite their participation in democratic elections, the Muslim Brotherhood ultimately could not be considered to be a positive force for democratization in Egypt, and this has negative implications for its role in the region as a whole.