Egypt remains a key American ally in the struggle to establish democratic societies in the Middle East, but unfortunately, the Egyptian government has stifled free speech and made free elections an unusual event. The major opponent of President Mubarak is the Muslim Brotherhood which enjoys considerable popularity among many sectors of Egyptian society. On Monday, security forces arrested 39 members of the Muslim Brotherhood while its leaders were on vacation in the Nile Delta. An official stated: “Thirty-nine Muslim Brothers were arrested while on holiday in Kafr Al-Sheikh. The website of the Muslim Brotherhood indicated three of those arrested held positions of local power in the organization. The men are accused of propogating Muslim Brotherhood ideas and being found in possession of Islamist literature which is banned in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 and officially banned while President Nasser led the nation. The Brotherhood currently holds about one fifth of seats in Parliament although these representatives must run as independents.
The Muslim Brotherhood can play a vital role in furthering the development of democracy in Egypt. The Egyptian government needs an opposition in order to curb nepotism and corruption which are widespread in Egypt.