As Egyptian elections draw near, the Muslim Brotherhood, careful to keep a low profile during the revolt that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, is seizing the political momentum. The intensely disciplined Islamist group is Egypt’s most cohesive political movement, and the largest organization apart from the Egyptian military itself. Through its network of schools and clinics, and by offering social services, it enjoys an unparalleled ability to mobilize its followers.

Will the Brotherhood, moderated perhaps by its participation in electoral politics, use the unprecedented opening offered by the upcoming elections to support a turn toward democracy? Or will it move Egypt in a theocratic, anti-Western direction? The Brotherhood itself has made some conciliatory and reassuring noises in the direction of apprehensive Western ears.

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