Given its growing control over key government institutions and its unmatched mobilizing capabilities, the Muslim Brotherhood will likely remain Egypt's most consequential political actor for many years to come. But who are the men who make up this uniquely cohesive and secretive "society," and what impact will they have on the country's domestic and foreign policy?
Since Hosni Mubarak's February 2011 ouster, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as Egypt’s most potent political force. It won a decisive plurality in the winter 2011–2012 People’s Assembly elections and a majority in the January 2012 Shura Council elections, thus gaining control over both houses of parliament and the committee that is writing the next constitution. And in June, the group successfully campaigned to elect Brotherhood leader Muhammad Morsi as Egypt’s first civilian president.
Since taking office, Morsi has moved quickly to consolidate the organization’s power, appointing fellow Muslim Brothers to head key ministries and cracking down on media criticism of the group. His boldest moves came on August 12, when he sacked the generals who posed the greatest threat to his authority, promoted new generals who now answer to him, and issued a constitutional declaration that gave him full executive, legislative, and constitution-writing powers. Although Morsi and the Brotherhood may yet face challenges from non-Islamists, Salafists, former regime elements, and, perhaps, the judiciary, the group’s unmatched mobilizing capabilities and control over key government institutions will likely make it Egypt’s most consequential political actor for many years to come.
For this reason, it is worth taking a closer look at the individuals who make up the Brotherhood’s organizational and political leadership. After all, the group views itself not as a political party directed by a single chairman, but as a cohesive “society” that operates on the basis of internal consultation, or shura. Accordingly, its strategic and policy decisions will be guided not only by Morsi and Supreme Guide Muhammad Badie, but also by a team of longtime Brotherhood officials who will coordinate efforts across the various political bodies the group now dominates. Who are these individuals? While the profiles in this compendium demonstrate that Brotherhood leaders come from many different educational and professional backgrounds, their stories illustrate three important points about the organization.
First, the Brotherhood’s leadership is composed almost exclusively of longtime members. Most were recruited during high school or college and, in many cases, served in top administrative positions within the Brotherhood’s nationwide structure before being promoted to the Guidance Office (the organization’s top executive authority) or nominated for political office. To some extent, this is typical of any political organization: veteran members tend to lead. But for the Brotherhood, having longtime members in top posts ensures that its leaders have all been vetted over the course of decades for their willingness to comply with the internal shura committee’s decisions. This does not mean that internal divisions are impossible, but the tight, time-tested circle in which decisions are made makes this highly unlikely. As a result, the Brotherhood maintains a unity of purpose that other Egyptian political groups have yet to achieve.
Second, in addition to their positions within the group, most Brotherhood leaders were active in important societal organizations under the Mubarak regime, serving on the boards of professional syndicates, heading labor unions, running religious charities, and/or participating in key social clubs. These positions enabled them to build their stature at a time when avenues for more direct political participation were often blocked. Such activity also helped the group expand its outreach networks, through which it gained popular support by providing social services and increasing its recruitment efforts.
Third, almost all of the Brotherhood’s top leaders were directly persecuted under the Mubarak regime, and many served time as political prisoners. To some extent, this enhances their unity, particularly among those who were imprisoned together. More important, it makes them unlikely to tolerate competing centers of power, since the Brotherhood’s ouster could invite a new era of repression against the organization.
Individual profiles suggest other important points about the Brotherhood as well. In particular, the group’s recruitment networks clearly have international reach, since three of its top leaders (including Morsi) came aboard while living in the United States. The Brotherhood’s internal promotion structure is also somewhat nepotistic, given that its top leaders frequently are related to each other through marriage or are professional colleagues. Finally, despite the fact that Brotherhood officials have never run a government ministry or wielded meaningful political power until recently, the group is confident that it has the expertise to lead Egypt because its members come from many different professional backgrounds.
This first installment of Brotherhood profiles examines top figures from the Guidance Office, the Freedom and Justice Party (the group’s political arm), the parliamentary leadership, and members of Morsi’s presidential office. These profiles will be updated as new information surfaces, and new ones will be added over time.
(Note: To see quotation sources and photographs for each individual profiled, download the PDF version of the compendium.)
Born: August 1951
Position: President of Egypt; formerly member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office, parliamentarian (2000–2005), and chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party
Education: Doctorate in engineering from University of Southern California (1982), master’s degree in engineering from Cairo University (1978), bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cairo University (1975)
Morsi was first recruited to the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States while studying for his PhD in engineering at the University of Southern California. His children were born in California and are U.S. citizens. After receiving his doctorate in 1982, he taught as an assistant professor at California State University–Northridge until 1985.
He then returned to Egypt to teach at Zagazig University, where his colleagues included current Brotherhood deputy supreme guides Mahmoud Ezzat and Mahmoud Ghozlan. Some sources report that Morsi’s rise in the MB began in 2000, when he was elected as a member of the People’s Assembly and served as the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc leader from 2000 to 2005. After losing his parliamentary race in 2005 due to Mubarak regime forgery, he became leader of the Brotherhood’s political division. From 2007 onward, he was also the key point of contact between the MB and the regime’s repressive State Security apparatus (and, according to MB political leader Saad al-Husseini, between the Brotherhood and Hamas).
Morsi has been arrested at least twice: he was detained for seven months in 2006 after protesting alongside several judges who had been targeted by the regime, and again during the January 2011 uprising, along with several other Brotherhood leaders. Following the uprising, the MB leadership appointed him chairman of the newly formed Freedom and Justice Party. In April 2012, he was chosen as the group’s backup presidential candidate in the event that its initial candidate, Khairat al-Shater, was barred from running. When Shater was indeed excluded due to a previous conviction, Morsi became the MB’s presidential nominee. In the first round of Egypt’s presidential election, Morsi won 24.78 percent of the vote, securing his position in a runoff against Ahmed Shafiq in mid-June. On June 24, Morsi was declared president, having won 51.73 percent of the vote.
Born: August 7, 1943
Position: Supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood
Education: Doctorate in veterinary medicine from Zagazig University
Occupation: Part-time professor of pathology at veterinary school of Beni Suef University
Shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine in 1965, Badie was arrested for his political activities (along with Muslim Brotherhood leader Sayyed Qutb) and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He served only nine years; President Anwar Sadat released him in 1974. Badie became a member of the Brotherhood’s al-Mahalla al-Kubra administrative office the following year and was eventually named chief of that branch. From 1986 to 1990, he served as a member of the Brotherhood’s administrative office in Beni Suef, and in 1993 he became a member of the group’s Guidance Office. In 1998, he was imprisoned for seventy-five days for his participation in the Islamic Dawa Society in Beni Suef.
Badie became supreme guide of the Brotherhood in 2010, replacing Muhammad Mahdi Akef. He has made several inflammatory statements about Israel and the West, including a 2010 speech in which he claimed that “Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslims’ real enemies: not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded. Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States.” Despite being supreme guide, Badie is considered a relatively weak Brotherhood leader; deputy supreme guides Khairat al-Shater, Mahmoud Ghozlan, Mahmoud Hussein, and Mahmoud Ezzat are generally considered more influential in the group’s decisionmaking.
Born: May 4, 1950
Position: First deputy to the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide
Education: Master’s degree in construction management, bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and anthropology
Occupation: Engineer, businessman
Shater joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1974. Previously, he was one of the founding members of the General Islamic Action in Alexandria in 1967 and was later imprisoned for participating in student demonstrations. After joining the MB, he became one of its most influential leaders. Due to his many business interests, he is widely viewed as the group’s key financier and strategist. In the early 1990s, he and business partner Hassan Malek, also a longtime MB member, were imprisoned as part of the Salsabil investigation (see Malek’s entry for more on this case). Shater was released in 1993, and in 1995 he became a member of the MB Guidance Office. From 1995 to 2000, he served out another prison sentence (along with fifty-four other MB members) for his role in “reviving” the Brotherhood, which at the time was an illegal organization. Starting in 2004, he served as second deputy to former general guide Mahdi Akef and was instrumental in negotiating with the regime regarding the Brotherhood’s participation in the 2005 parliamentary elections, in which the group won 88 of 454 seats. In 2007, he was arrested with other MB members for allegedly providing combat training and weapons to student protestors. Sentenced to seven years for terrorism and money laundering, he was released in March 2011 following Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Since the January 2011 uprising, Shater has been the Brotherhood’s most influential strategist. He was largely responsible for the group’s decision to form a single political party and was a leading force behind the drafting of the “Nahda project,” the MB’s electoral platform. Shater was nominated as the MB’s primary presidential candidate for the 2012 presidential election but was barred from running due to his recent imprisonment. He continues to play a key role in the Brotherhood’s political strategizing and policymaking, however, and remains a key point of contact between the MB and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Key quote: “The success of the Muslim Brotherhood should not frighten anybody: we respect the rights of all religious and political groups” (2005) (source)
Born: Not available
Position: Official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood; member of the Constituent Assembly
Education: Not available
Occupation: Professor at Zagazig University, College of Agriculture
Ghozlan is a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Office and served as secretary-general of the group until his arrest in February 2002; he was released in August 2005, then imprisoned again from March to October 2007. Currently, he is married to Fatima al-Shater, the sister of MB deputy supreme guide Khairat al-Shater, with whom he has six children. He is also a professor at Zagazig University, where he is a colleague of deputy supreme guide Mahmoud Ezzat and, until recently, President Muhammad Morsi.
Ghozlan became the target of criticism in 2012 when his statements against the United Arab Emirates’ treatment of Egyptian Islamist Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi created a brief crisis in UAE-Egyptian relations. Ghozlan is considered among the Brotherhood’s more hardline leaders: he accused former Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman of being an “aide to the Jews” and has stated that he does not believe reports regarding the persecution of Christians in Egypt.
Key quote: accused Suleiman of being an aide to the Jews, collaborating with U.S. intelligence, and spying on the MB (source)
Born: August 13, 1944
Position: Deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood
Education: Doctorate in medicine from Zagazig University (1985), master’s degree in medicine (1980), B.S. in medicine (1975), diploma from Institute of Islamic Studies (1998)
After becoming acquainted with the Brotherhood as a boy, Ezzat began studying with the group in 1962. He was imprisoned along with Supreme Guide Muhammad Badie from 1965 to 1974 and has been a member of the MB Guidance Office since 1981. He is married to the daughter of former supreme guide Mahdi Akef.
Along with Khairat al-Shater and Hassan Malek, Ezzat was detained under suspicion in the Salsabil case from 1992 to 1993 (see Malek’s entry for more on Salsabil). In 1995, he was imprisoned for being a leader of an illegal organization. He was jailed again in January 2008, this time for participating in Cairo demonstrations against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. He is currently a professor in Zagazig University’s College of Medicine, where his colleagues have included President Morsi and fellow Guidance Office member Mahmoud Ghozlan. He is also vice president of the Islamic Medical Association.
In the media, Ezzat has been personified as the Brotherhood’s “iron man,” embodying its reputation for top-down decisionmaking. He is considered close to deputy supreme guide Shater and is a key figure in coordinating policy decisions between the Guidance Office and the Freedom and Justice Party.
Born: July 16, 1947
Position: Member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s shura committee; secretary-general of the MB
Education: PhD, Iowa City University (1984)
Occupation: Professor of engineering at Assiut University
Born in Jaffa, mandatory Palestine, Hussein was raised in Beersheba and attended high school in Rafah, Gaza, while it was under Egyptian rule. His mother was Palestinian and his father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He became active in the MB during the late 1970s while he was a graduate student at Iowa City University in the United States, serving as president of the Brotherhood-affiliated Muslim American Youth Association (MAYA). During this period, he met other future MB leaders in the United States (including Muhammad Morsi and Muhammad Ali Bishr) as well as current Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk. Upon returning to Egypt, he became a professor of engineering at Assiut University. His son is married to Bishr’s daughter.
Hussein has been arrested numerous times for his membership in the Brotherhood, serving in prison from 1995 to 1998. He was elected to the Guidance Office shortly after the death of MB leader Abouel Hamid Rabie in 2004. He currently serves as the Brotherhood’s secretary-general and is one of four MB leaders responsible for coordination with the Freedom and Justice Party.
Born: Not available
Position: Head of the Office of the President; member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Office
Education: B.S. in medicine, University of Alexandria; M.B.A. from Aston University, England; doctorate in microbiology, University of Birmingham, England
Occupation: Doctor, businessman
Haddad’s political involvement began during his studies at the University of Alexandria College of Medicine, where was elected president of the student union. He later obtained his master’s degree and PhD in England. In 1984, he cofounded Islamic Relief Worldwide, a Britain-based NGO, and he continues to serve as chairman of its board of trustees. Additionally, he is a member of the Arab Group for Development, the Union of Arab Exhibitions, the International Business Forum, the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the British Egyptian Business Association, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. He also founded “Inter-Build Egypt,” the country’s largest exhibition for the construction sector.
Haddad was arrested in 2009 while attending a demonstration in support of the Palestinians alongside then Guidance Office member Abdel Monem Abouel Fetouh. He rose through the Brotherhood’s leadership ranks and was elected to the Guidance Office himself in December 2009. His brother Medhat serves with him on the MB’s internal shura committee, which votes on strategy and policy. Within the Guidance Office, Haddad handles the foreign relations portfolio and, since the January 2011 uprising, has been influential in the Brotherhood’s outreach to the West. He met with U.S. assistant secretary of state Michael Posner in January 2012, and organized the Freedom and Justice Party’s participation in the Carnegie Endowment’s conference on democratic change in North Africa, held in Washington in April 2012. Following Khairat al-Shater’s exclusion from the presidential race in April 2012, Haddad became Muhammad Morsi’s campaign manager and, in early May, accompanied both men to Alexandria to meet with prominent Salafist sheikhs. He was later appointed an advisor to President Morsi, accompanying him when he first entered the presidential palace and later becoming his top foreign policy counselor.
Born: April 3, 1952
Position: Speaker of the People’s Assembly, former member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office
Education: Doctorate in microbiology (1984), master’s degree in microbiology (1979), B.S. in botany (1974), B.A. in Islamic studies (2000)
Occupation: Professor at Minia University
From 2005 to 2010, Katatni led the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc. He also served in the group’s Guidance Office from 2008 until he was appointed secretary-general of the Freedom and Justice Party in April 2011. After winning a parliamentary seat in the 2011 elections, he was elected speaker of the People’s Assembly and resigned from the FJP leadership, though he remained a member of the MB’s internal shura committee. Katatni is a founding member of the Egyptian branch of the Arab Region Parliamentarians against Corruption (ARPAC) and a member of Amnesty International. He also served as secretary-general of the national scientists’ syndicate from 1984 to 1993, secretary-general of the Faculty Members’ Club of Minia University from 1990 to 2006, and chairman of the university’s Botany Department from 1994 to 1998. He became a full professor in 2004.
Born: November 1959
Position: Majority leader of the People’s Assembly; director of the Muslim Brotherhood’s administrative office in Alexandria
Education: Several degrees from the Alexandria University College of Agriculture, the Benha University College of Science, and the College of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at Omar al-Mukhtar University in Libya
Ibrahim was first elected to the People’s Assembly in the 2000 parliamentary elections and later reelected in 2005, during which time he served as deputy chairman of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc under Saad al-Katatni. He has also risen through the ranks of the MB’s nationwide hierarchy, serving as chairman of the group’s administrative office in Alexandria from 2008 to 2011. Following the 2011 uprising, he participated in the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party and was reelected to parliament during that year’s elections. In January 2012, he was appointed parliamentary majority leader. He currently sits on the Constituent Assembly, which is writing Egypt’s next constitution. He is also a founding member of the Association of Arab Parliamentarians Supporting the Palestinian Cause and vice president of the World Forum of Islamic Parliamentarians.
Born: April 28, 1954
Position: Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, People’s Assembly; vice chair of the Freedom and Justice Party; advisor to President Morsi
Education: Master’s in clinical pathology; B.S. in medicine and surgery, specializing in hematology and medical analysis (1977); applied for doctorate in medicine and surgery from Cairo University but was unable to obtain it due to his repeated arrests; lawyer’s license from Cairo University (1992); degree in history from Cairo University (2000); license in sharia and law from al-Azhar University
Erian was a founding member of Islamic Student Action at Cairo University, as well as student union leader during the early 1970s. He was elected president of the General Union of Students of Egyptian University and also served as secretary of the cultural committee in the medical students’ union in Cairo (1972–1977). In 1981, he was arrested alongside several other members of Egypt’s Islamist groups, tried in a military court, and released a year later. In 1986, he was elected to the board of directors of the Egyptian doctors’ syndicate. In 1987, he was elected to the People’s Assembly, becoming the youngest parliamentarian in modern Egyptian history. In 1995, he was imprisoned along with many others for his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. He was also jailed in 2005 after he hinted that he might run for president, in 2006 for his participation in protests, in 2007 for his leadership role in the Brotherhood, and in January 2011 at the height of the anti-Mubarak revolt.
Following Mubarak’s ouster, Erian played a leading role in establishing the Freedom and Justice Party and was named its vice chairman. In the 2011 parliamentary elections, he won a seat in the People’s Assembly and was named chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He speaks fluent English and often addresses the U.S. media.
Born: June 25, 1957
Position: Deputy of the National Security Committee; member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s shura committee
Education: Bachelor’s degree in pharmaceuticals, Zagazig University (1980)
Ismail first became politically active as a student at Zagazig University, where he was a member of the student union. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood around 1982, rising through the group’s leadership structure and serving in its administrative office in Sharqiyah. In 2005, he won a seat in the People’s Assembly, where he served until 2010. In 2009, he was elected to the Brotherhood’s internal shura committee, which votes on all major strategic and policy decisions.
Following the 2011 uprising, Ismail participated in the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party, and he currently sits on its high committee. He was reelected to the People’s Assembly in 2011 and appointed deputy of the National Security Committee in January 2012. In June 2012, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly, which will write Egypt’s next constitution.
Born: April 16, 1963
Position: Member of the People’s Assembly; member of the Constituent Assembly
Education: Al-Azhar Medical College, 1987/1988
Occupation: Medical doctor
Beltagy, one of the Brotherhood’s most prominent and charismatic political figures, first became acquainted with the group while in high school in Alexandria, where he was considered a student leader. A member of the Alexandria Religious Institute Student Union, he participated in Islamist activities beginning in 1978. In light of his high academic achievement, he was awarded a full scholarship to the Azhar College of Medicine in 1982, where he remained a prominent student leader and was elected president of the student union in 1985.
Beltagy was elected to the People’s Assembly in 2005, where he became a prominent critic of the regime. After failing in his 2010 reelection bid, he joined the antiregime “popular parliament” and participated in the 2011 uprising. In the early days of the revolt, he was a key figure in convincing the Brotherhood’s Guidance Office, which initially hesitated, to back the movement. One week after Mubarak’s ouster, Beltagy arranged for Islamist sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s Tahrir Square speech following Friday prayers, against the wishes of leading youth activists. Shortly thereafter, Beltagy played a key role in establishing the Freedom and Justice Party and was later reelected to parliament in November 2011. He currently serves on the Constituent Assembly, which is writing Egypt’s next constitution.
Although frequently described as a moderate, Beltagy has staked out a number of hardline positions. Prior to the 2012 presidential election, when Brotherhood leaders sought to negotiate the post-Mubarak transition with the military council, he was among the junta’s most vocal critics, and his frequent calls to end military rule upset his MB colleagues. He also participated in the 2010 Turkish “Freedom Flotilla” to Gaza; Israeli forces captured him aboard the Mavi Marmara following the deadly confrontation. In addition, Beltagy has opposed the quota for female members of parliament, stating, “After the revolution, responsibility is now shared between men and women” —a disingenuous assertion that flies in the face of women's continuing underrepresentation in the government.
Born: February 18, 1959
Position: Chair, Planning and Budget Committee, People’s Assembly; former Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Office member; member of the MB’s internal shura committee
Education: Engineering degree from Mansoura University (1982), lawyer's license from Tanta University (2000), high degree in Islamic law from Tanta University (2004)
Husseini began his political career as a student leader in high school, and the Brotherhood recruited him shortly after he began his studies at Mansoura University in 1977, where he also served as a prominent student union leader. After graduating with an engineering degree in 1982, he opened a small business and became active in the group’s political wing in 1987, when he managed MB leader Mahfouz Helmy’s successful parliamentary campaign. Two years later, while assisting the Brotherhood in its Shura Council campaigning, he was arrested for the first of ten times.
In the 1990s, Husseini emerged as a political leader in his district, serving as chair of the local monitoring committee in al-Mahalla al-Kubra. In 2001, he served as secretary of the coordinating committee between trade unions, political parties, and popular forces in Gharbiyah, and hosted a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Tanta Stadium in 2002. He first ran for parliament in 2005 and won, but lost in 2010 due to regime forgery. He was elected to the MB's Guidance Office in 2008 and was one of the group's youngest leaders at the time. Following the January 2011 uprising, he played a leading role in founding the Freedom and Justice Party. He resigned from the Guidance Office shortly thereafter but remained on the internal shura committee. He later won a parliamentary seat and was appointed chair of the Planning and Budget Committee in January 2012.
Husseini is viewed as a hardliner who is close to Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater. In March 2011, he announced that the FJP would stick by “the jurisprudential opinion refusing the appointment of women or Christians as president,” although it would not “impose this opinion on the people, who have inherent jurisdiction in this regard.” He is a member of the Islamic Educational Assembly in Gharbiyah and the Ansar al-Sunna Society.
Born: September 19, 1953
Position: Deputy of the Legislation Committee in the People’s Assembly; member of the Constituent Assembly
Education: Alexandria University College of Law, 1979
Occupation: Appeals lawyer in Alexandria
Saleh is considered among the Brotherhood’s foremost legal minds. He first became acquainted with the group in the mid-1970s, after top Brotherhood leaders were released from prison under Sadat. Following Sadat’s assassination, Saleh was arrested in 1981. He has written several books about emergency law in Egypt and is a member of Amnesty International.
Saleh won a seat in the People’s Assembly in 2005 and served until 2010, when he was violently assaulted on election day and lost in the rigged voting. During the January 2011 uprising, he was imprisoned for three days. Following Mubarak’s ouster a month later, he participated in the committee that drafted amendments to Egypt’s constitution, which were passed by a national referendum on March 19. His role on the committee was seen as the first indication that the ruling military council would tolerate and perhaps even cooperate with the Brotherhood. He later participated in the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party, winning a parliamentary seat in November 2011. In January 2012, he was appointed deputy chairman of the parliament's Legislation Committee. He currently sits on the Constituent Assembly, which is writing Egypt’s next constitution.
Saleh is considered among the most radical MB political figures. When asked during a March 2011 speech at al-Azhar University whether the Brotherhood would be able to establish an Islamic state to everyone’s liking, he replied, “The Copts are deadlocked because they don’t want an Islamic state. But not us.” In December 2011, he stated that the FJP would prohibit alcohol. He is also a 9/11 revisionist, claiming that “the Jews and the Zionists were responsible" for the attacks.
Saber Abouel Fotouh
صابر أبو الفتوح
Born: August 1964
Position: Chair of the Workforce Committee, People’s Assembly
Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial technology
Occupation: Administrative manager at El Amariya Petroleum Company
Abouel Fotouh was recruited to the Muslim Brotherhood through an Alexandria mosque in 1978 while he was a middle school student, but he did not become a full-fledged akh amal (“working brother,” the highest level of membership) until 1988 due to his studies and military service. He was later appointed chief of his local Brotherhood usra (“family”), ultimately rising through the ranks until he was appointed head of his qita (“sector,” the administrative level just below the Guidance Office), through which he oversaw MB activities in three governorates.
A longtime labor leader, he first entered politics in 1987, when he ran for parliament as part of the Brotherhood-dominated Islamic Alliance but failed to win a seat. He also ran in the 1992 local council elections in Alexandria. He finally won a parliamentary seat in 2005 but lost in the rigged 2010 elections.
Following the January 2011 uprising, he participated in the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party and later won a parliamentary seat in November 2011. In January 2012, he was named chairman of the parliamentary Workforce Committee. He remains active in various societal organizations: he is a member of the Solidarity Committee for the Palestinian People, the Egyptian Association for Development, and the board of directors of the Egyptian Center for Culture and Media.
Abouel Fotouh's political views tend to be hardline. In August 2011, when Israel was attacked from Sinai and returned fire, accidentally killing five Egyptian soldiers, he participated in protests outside the Israeli consulate in Alexandria, during which Israeli flags were burned. He has argued that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by American intelligence as a pretext for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. He has also argued that Christians should not be allowed to criticize Islamic law.
Born: October 1958
Position: Freedom and Justice Party secretary in Giza; secretary-general, Constituent Assembly
Education: Doctorate in soil mechanics and foundations, Purdue University (1987), master’s degree in soil mechanics and foundations, Cairo University (1984), bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Cairo University (1980)
Occupation: Professor in Cairo University's College of Engineering
Darrag is a founding member of the Freedom and Justice Party and its current secretary-general in Giza. He also serves as secretary-general of the Constituent Assembly, which will write Egypt’s next constitution. From 1987 to 1988, he was a senior engineer for Erdman and Associates Inc. in Orlando, Florida. He also served as vice president of the Staff Club at Cairo University from 2000 to 2009. Like other Brotherhood leaders, he has denied that Copts are being persecuted in Egypt and rejects the use of the term “sectarian tensions.”
Sheikh Sayyed Askar
الشيخ سيد عسكر
Born: February 1, 1934
Position: Chair of the Religious Affairs Committee, People’s Assembly; member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal shura committee
Education: High degree from the College of Theology (1959)
Askar is a scholar at al-Azhar, the preeminent institution of Sunni learning. He served as deputy in al-Azhar's Lebanon mission beginning in 1983, rising to head of the mission from 1985 to 1986. From 1987 to 1996, he served as the institution’s envoy to North America during Ramadan. And from 1992 to 1996, he served as its general director of dawa and press relations. He has written fifteen books on “Islamic advocacy.”
A longtime Muslim Brother, Askar first ran for parliament as part of the group’s Islamic Alliance in 1987, but the elections were forged against him. He was detailed along with fifty other MB leaders in 1995 and tried before a military court. He was arrested again in May 2005 for protesting “the crime of insulting the Holy Quran at the hands of the Americans” in front of a Tanta mosque. He ran for parliament in 2010 in the Tanta district and lost. He won a seat in 2011, however, and was soon appointed chair of the Religious Affairs Committee. He also sits on the Brotherhood’s internal shura committee.
Born: August 31, 1955
Position: Chair of the Committee on Health Issues, People’s Assembly
Education: Doctorate in diseases of the liver and digestive system (1992), master’s degree in medicine (1985), B.S. in medicine and surgery (1979–1980)
Occupation: Cardiologist at the National Heart Institute
Shaer was a member of the People’s Assembly under Mubarak from 2000 to 2010. He was also a candidate for the legislature in 1995 but lost due to regime forgery. During the January 28, 2011, “Friday of Rage” protests against Mubarak’s rule, Shaer's son sustained extensive injuries and is therefore frequently referred to as a “hero” of the revolution. He was transported to Germany for surgery after more than 200 pieces of shrapnel entered his body and bullets broke two bones in his leg. On the first anniversary of the revolution, Shaer gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the People’s Assembly that moved many members, including Saad al-Katatni, to tears. In April, he denounced hospitals that had issued a ban on nurses wearing niqab (full veils), saying, “We must thank—not punish—a nurse wearing the niqab but doing her job right.”
Born: July 12, 1958
Position: Chair of Industry and Energy Committee, People’s Assembly
Education: Bachelor’s degree in engineering (1981)
Occupation: Electrical engineer
Negidah has a long history of participation in Islamist political groups. He joined al-Gamaa al-Islamiyah in 1976; became a leader in Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhammadiya in 1982, ultimately serving as president; and joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1985. From 1991 to 1995, he served as treasurer of the engineers’ syndicate in Sharqiyah, later becoming undersecretary of the Ministry of Electricity in Ismailia governorate. In 2010, he and several other MB members were arrested and ultimately released without charges. He was a founding member of the Freedom and Justice Party.
Saber Abdul Sadeq
Born: Not available
Position: Chair of the Local Administration Committee, People’s Assembly
Education: Bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering, Ain Shams University
Abdul Sadeq was first elected to the People’s Assembly in 2000 and served until 2005. A member of the Housing Committee, he was considered among the assembly's top fifty deputies. After the uprising, he joined the newly formed Freedom and Justice Party and was reelected to parliament. In January 2012, he was appointed chair of the parliamentary Local Administration Committee; he is also a member of the engineers’ syndicate in Damietta. He advocates giving more power to local authorities and decentralizing the government.
Born: January 11, 1955
Position: Chair of the Transportation and Communications Committee, People’s Assembly
Education: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering
Amer served as a Muslim Brotherhood representative in the People’s Assembly from 2005 to 2010. Following the establishment of the Freedom and Justice Party in April 2011, he became a member of its high committee, later winning a parliamentary seat in the November 2011 elections. In January 2012, he was appointed chairman of the parliamentary Transportation and Communications Committee. Currently, he is administrative director at the Menoufiya University Hospital College of Medicine; he also serves as a chief liaison among the area's political parties and trade unions.
Born: January 13, 1940
Position: Chair of the Legislation Committee, People’s Assembly
Education: Lawyer’s license from Ain Shams University College of Law (1963)
Khodary is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and remains a political independent. In the November 2011 parliamentary elections, the MB's Freedom and Justice Party endorsed his candidacy, and he won a seat. In January 2012, he was appointed chairman of the Legislation Committee. Although still not formally a member of the FJP, he remains close to the party. In the run-up to the May 2012 presidential election, he initially endorsed ex-Brotherhood candidate Abdel Monem Abouel Fetouh, but switched his endorsement to Muhammad Morsi five days before the first round of voting because he saw the latter as a stronger Islamist candidate.
Prior to entering electoral politics, Khodary served as deputy chairman of the Egyptian Court of Cassation and was voted president of the Alexandria Judges’ Union in 2004. He was a member of the 2005 judicial movement to boycott supervising elections until the law was amended to allow them full supervisory powers. In 2006, the Higher Judiciary Council stripped him of his judicial immunity in order to investigate allegations of misconduct.
Gen. Abbas Mukhaymer
اللواء عباس مخيمر
Position: Chair of the Committee of Defense and National Security, People’s Assembly
Education: Degree from Military Academy, Armored Corps (1969)
Occupation: Retired general in military intelligence
General Mukhaymer fought in the October 1973 war as co-captain of the Third Field Army forces that participated in Operation Badr, the Egyptian effort to cross the Sinai and seize the Bar-Lev Line of Israeli fortifications. He later served as a military intelligence general for approximately four years; his responsibilities included ensuring that religious extremists (e.g., Muslim Brothers) were excluded from the officer class. He retired from the military in 2002. Although he was never a member of the Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party recruited him as a candidate in the 2011–2012 parliamentary elections, where he won a seat. In January 2012, the Brotherhood—apparently hoping to placate the ruling military council—chose him to chair the sensitive Committee of Defense and National Security. Mukhaymer visited Washington as part of an Egyptian parliamentary delegation in June 2012.
Born: February 12, 1953
Position: Speaker of the Shura Council (upper house of parliament)
Education: Doctorate in pharmacology, Zagazig University (1985), master’s degree in pharmacology, Zagazig University (1981), B.S. in pharmaceutical science, Cairo University (1976)
Fahmi joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1978, when he was a member of the coordinating committee for political parties and unions in Sharqiyah. He taught in the Department of Pharmacology at Zagazig University in 1994–1997 and 2000–2004, during which time his colleagues included MB leaders Muhammad Morsi, Mahmoud Ghozlan, and Mahmoud Hussein. He reportedly used his position there to encourage other Brotherhood faculty to teach the group's ideals. He also served in the Brotherhood’s teachers’ sector, where he reported to Guidance Office member Muhammad Abu Zeid. He is extremely close to Morsi: the two were roommates during their time at Zagazig, and Fahmi’s son is married to Morsi’s daughter.
In 1992, Fahmi became a member of the pharmacy syndicate’s general council, later serving on the committee that monitored medicine in the Ministry of Health from 1997 to 2008. He ran for parliament in 2010 and advanced to the second round, but the Brotherhood withdrew from the elections due to rampant forgery. Elected to the Shura Council in January 2012, he was named speaker of that body after running unopposed.
Ali Fath al-Bab
الباب فتح على
Born: Not available
Position: Majority leader of the Shura Council (upper house of parliament); former member of the Constituent Assembly
Education: Not available
Occupation: Director of operations for the Egyptian Iron and Steel Co.
Fath al-Bab was first elected to the People’s Assembly in 1995 as a representative from the Helwan district. He was the only Muslim Brotherhood representative at the time. He was reelected in 2000 and 2005, making him the longest consecutively serving MB parliamentarian. As a result, he has participated in many international meetings, including the Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Gabon, the African Parliamentary Union in Algiers, and the annual conference of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in France.
Fath al-Bab won a seat during the January 2012 Shura Council elections and was appointed majority leader shortly thereafter. In February 2012, he announced that the council “will not rest until every inch of occupied Arab land is freed, as we will give our best efforts to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque from the aggressors.” In June 2012, he was appointed to the Constituent Assembly, which will write Egypt’s next constitution; he resigned on July 15, however, citing doubts about the legality of including Shura Council members on the assembly.
During his tenure with the Egyptian Iron and Steel Co., he has served on the board of directors for both the trade union (1991–1996) and the company itself (2001–2006). Currently, he is secretary of the company’s zakat committee and cofounder of the committee for charitable operations.
Born: Not available
Position: Chair of the Legislative and Constitutional Committee, Shura Council (upper house of parliament)
Education: Police academy (1970)
Tousoun joined the Muslim Brotherhood after graduating from the Egyptian police academy. Appointed chief of inspections, he was ultimately imprisoned for not arresting members of Islamist groups. After his release, he became a lawyer. In the 1987 parliamentary elections, he won a seat in the People’s Assembly, where he served until the body's dissolution in 1990. Thereafter, he focused his political energies within the lawyers' syndicate, becoming secretary-general and overseeing the Brotherhood’s electoral efforts within the syndicate in 2001.
Tousoun won a seat on the Shura Council in January 2012 and was later appointed chair of the Legislative and Constitutional Committee. He was also appointed to the first Constituent Assembly in March 2012, though the body was later disbanded by court order. He believes that the new constitution should reflect Islamic concepts in dealing with the economy, and he vocally protested the ruling military council’s issuance of a “constitutional declaration” in June 2012, stating, “The protests will remain in Tahrir Square until...the president’s stolen powers are returned.”
Born: Not available
Position: Minister of housing; member of the Freedom and Justice Party’s higher committee; head of the housing portfolio during Morsi’s presidential campaign
Education: Not available
Occupation: Professor of urban planning at Cairo University
Wafiq rose to prominence following the January 2011 uprising, when he participated in the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party and was appointed chairman of its housing committee. Within the party, he gained a reputation for consulting “all leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood” before making any decisions, which reportedly ingratiated him to Morsi. He has also been influential in the FJP’s tourism development policies, stating that the Brotherhood would “not make concessions [for tourism] at the expense of holy Quranic scripture.”
Salah Abdel Maqsoud
المقصود عبد صلاح
Position: Minister of information; former Morsi presidential campaign spokesman
Education: B.A. in journalism from Cairo University (1980)
Abdel Maqsoud has been a journalist since 1979, working on several Islamist magazines including Egyptian Dawa, al-Bashir (1985), The Banner of Islam (1987 and 1994), and Harvest of Thought (1992). He was elected to the board of the politically active journalists’ syndicate in 1995 and was the first reporter to win four consecutive terms; he will serve as acting chairman until new elections are held in 2013. In addition to writing frequently for the Muslim Brotherhood’s website (IkhwanOnline.com), he also heads the Arabic Media Center, which publishes periodicals such as Arabic Jerusalem and the women’s magazine Flowers.
In August 2012, Abdel Maqsoud was appointed minister of information, a move that riled non-Islamist journalists and supporters of press freedom. Political activist Hazem Abdel Azim called him a “Brotherhood fanatic” and “Ikhwani to the core,” and some suspected that his relationship with powerful MB deputy supreme guide Khairat al-Shater had played a key role in his appointment. Abdel Maqsoud validated some of these accusations shortly after taking office, when he opened an investigation of a state-run television channel that had interviewed an Israeli political analyst regarding the security situation in Sinai. Shortly thereafter, he banned state-run television and radio from hosting Israeli commentators. State-run newspapers have also censored criticism of the MB since his appointment.
Born: December 16, 1966
Position: Minister of Manpower; member of the Constituent Assembly
Education: Chemical Technical Institute (1987); LL.B. in law (2002); M.A. in sharia and law from the Higher Institute of Islamic Studies (2004)
Occupation: Director of quality control, Amal Petroleum Company
Azhari became politically active as a student at the Chemical Technical Institute of Shobra, where he was elected president of the student union in 1986. He then began working at the Amal Petroleum Company, where he founded a labor union and served as its secretary-general from 2006 to 2011. A prominent labor activist, he also served as a public relations officer for the General Union of Petroleum and the Union of Arab Petroleum, Mining, and Chemical Workers. In addition, he serves on the zakat committee of the Mosque of Muslim Youths in Giza.
Azhari was a candidate for the Shura Council in Giza province in 2010. After Mubarak’s ouster, he was appointed to the board of Egypt’s Trade Unions Federation. Then, in 2011, he was elected to the People’s Assembly. In January 2012, he was named deputy chairman of the parliamentary Manpower Committee. In June, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly, which will write Egypt’s next constitution. In August, he was appointed minister of manpower.
Position: Minister of education; head of the education portfolio in Morsi’s presidential campaign; leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party
Education: B.A. in commerce, Ain Shams University
Occupation: Professor of foundations, College of Engineering, Cairo University
Mosaad served as an education advisor for Muhammad Morsi’s 2012 presidential campaign and was named minister of education in August. His appointment has been very controversial—teachers have protested that, as an engineering professor, he has no background in primary/secondary education, and they fear his appointment signals the Brotherhood’s desire to dominate education. In response to such concerns, Hassan Essawy, head of the Burj al-Arab teachers’ union and a Muslim Brother, stated, “We will not go along with anyone or the president just because we belong to the same party.” For his part, Mosaad has stated that his priorities lie in boosting public interest in universities, increasing teacher salaries, and emphasizing scientific research. He has also promised not use his position to impose the Freedom and Justice Party’s vision through educational reform.
Born: December 25, 1964
Position: Minister of Youth; former chair of the Youth Committee in the People’s Assembly; member of the Constituent Assembly; assistant secretary-general of the Freedom and Justice Party
Education: Master’s degree in pediatric medicine (1994), B.S. in medicine and surgery (1989)
Yassin joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1985, eventually rising through the ranks to become a spokesman for the group. He served as a member of the MB’s central Cairo administrative office from 2005 to 2011 and, during the revolution, as the group’s field coordinator. He is considered a future top leader in the Brotherhood.
Shortly after the January 2011 uprising, he participated in the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party, and he was elected to the People’s Assembly in November 2011. In January 2012, he was appointed chairman of the parliamentary Youth Committee. He is currently the assistant secretary-general of the FJP and a member of the Constituent Assembly, which is writing Egypt’s next constitution.
A medical doctor, Yassin worked from 1994 to 2010 as a specialist and advisor in the pediatric unit of Ain Shams University hospital. He is a member of the World Allergy Organization and a founding member of the Egyptian Pediatric Allergy and Immunity Group.
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Position: Assistant secretary of planning and development in the Freedom and Justice Party; named as potential prime minister
Occupation: Professor in Cairo University’s College of Engineering
Born to a religious family in Sohag, Suleiman joined the Muslim Brotherhood when he was twenty-eight years old, after finishing graduate school. During the late 1990s, he began working in the MB’s professionals department (which oversees outreach to Egyptian industrialists and businessmen) under Guidance Office member Muhammad Habib. In 2000, he was recruited to work on the “Renaissance Project,” which was initially intended to serve as the platform for the MB’s parliamentary delegation. This brought him close to Muhammad Morsi, the MB’s parliamentary bloc leader at the time.
According to news reports, Suleiman has largely remained out of the public eye due to long years of work on the Renaissance Project, which he described as “being based on the maximization of the family’s role in the rebirth and its consideration as a nucleus and basis for it.” Given his prior work as a consultant to energy companies, he is particularly focused on drafting energy policy ideas, but he also led an MB advisory team that assisted President Morsi on ministerial appointments. Currently, he is assistant secretary-general in the Freedom and Justice Party and was regarded as a possible prime ministerial candidate prior to Hesham Kandil’s appointment. He speaks fluent English.
Born: August 20, 1958
Position: Chair of the government’s new business development council
Education: B.A. from Alexandria University’s College of Commerce (1980)
Born into a Muslim Brotherhood family and named after MB founder Hassan al-Banna, Malek joined the organization at a young age. He was politicized following the January 1977 Bread Riots and strongly opposed Egypt’s 1978 peace treaty with Israel. That year, he befriended current Brotherhood deputy supreme guide Khairat al-Shater while studying at Alexandria University, where Malek was a student union leader.
In 1983, Malek and Shater cofounded one of Egypt’s first software companies, Salsabil, which signed the Egyptian military as one of its clients. The company made them both wealthy, increasing their influence within the Brotherhood. But in 1992, the Mubarak regime fabricated a case against Salsabil to target the MB’s finances. As a result, the company was shut down, more than 200 workers were laid off, and both Malek and Shater were imprisoned for a year without charges. Following his release, Malek resumed his business activities, establishing Malek Trade and investing in the Turkish furniture company Istikbal, among others. He also opened import/export deals in more than ten countries; four of his seven children help him run his factories.
The regime targeted Malek again in 2007, charging him with money laundering and funding a terrorist organization. The government froze his assets, and Malek served his prison sentence alongside Shater until both were released in March 2011 following Mubarak’s ouster. In March 2012, Malek established the Egyptian Business Development Association (EBDA), whose board of directors includes many Muslim Brothers. In July 2012, President Morsi appointed Malek to chair a new business development council for advising the president on attracting international investment.
Report by Eric Trager, Katie Kiraly, Cooper Klose, and Eliot Calhoun
Coptic Solidarity 2015 Conference
The Annual Conference was held in Washington, D.C. on June 11-13, 2015.