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The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s karate army

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s karate army

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist opposition group with an 88-member bloc in parliament, dances a delicate pas-de-deux with the government. Sometimes it clears its opposition activities with state security, and sometimes it challenges the government head-on.

So what do we make of this report that students aligned with the Brotherhood chose to hold a karate and kung-fu demonstration outside the dean’s office of a major state university? 180 students were arrested, according to the Brotherhood’s website (in Arabic), along with the number two man in the organization and others. 

The Egyptian government operates a kind of “revolving door policy” for top Brotherhood leaders: they get tossed in the slammer when they cross certain red lines, but are periodically released, presumably for promising good behavior.

Issandr El Amrani, a freelance journalist with long experience in Cairo, says the demo was probably held by “members who would like to take a much more aggressive stance towards the regime and impose itself on campus,” and does not represent the revival of the Brotherhood’s secret “paramiltary wing.” That’s long gone. But the radicalization of the younger generation is still worrisome.