The Brotherhood and Politics during the Nasser Regime

In the early days of the revolution, the relationship between the Free Officers and the Muslim Brothers was positive. The Brothers had little faith in the political elite, fought against the British, and participated in the war against Israel in 1948. Some members of the Free Officers maintained close ties with the Brotherhood before the revolution. But disagreements soon emerged over the direction of the state. These disagreements soon developed into outright antagonism and sometimes violent confrontations.

When political parties were abolished in 1953, the Muslim Brotherhood was allowed to continue its work as an “organization.” Sayyid Qutb, the famous Brotherhood ideologue, was granted was offered a leadership position in the Liberation Rally. However, relations deteriorated quickly. The Brotherhood protested the military rule, called for the return to a civilian government, and refused to grant legitimacy to a regime that did not implement Sharia. The Brotherhood, together with the Communists, organized demonstrations against the new regime demanding a return too civilian rule.

The breaking point came in October 1954, when a young member of the Muslim Brothers allegedy attempted to assassinate President Nasser. The incident greatly boosted Nasser’s popularity. The Brotherhood was outlawed, and tens of thousands of Brothers were arrested, tortured, and put on trial. Many of them received lengthy jail sentences with hard labor. Seven members received death sentences, including Hassan al-Hudeiby, the General Guide. Al-Hudeiby’s penalty was later commuted to life imprisonment (Soage and Franganillo, 2010).

Next: Sayyid Qutb and the Radicalization of the Brotherhood