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The Actual Size of the Muslim Brotherhood and Its Voting bloc

Tuesday 25-04-2017 - 12:22 AM

The claim that the number of MB members, who are entitled to vote in Egypt, ranges between 900,000 to 1,000,000 members


The data and information about the internal structure of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), its membership, as well as geographical and social distribution remain ambiguous. All what we have is a few incomplete pieces of information, but Ibrahim Mounir tries to inflate the size of his group to create pressure on the West.

No one inside or outside the MB has ever disclosed the exact number of the members of the MB Guidance Office, which is the higher organizational level in the group. However, we have a lot of information about a number of those members. It becomes more ambiguous when it comes to the group's Shura Council, the second most important entity after the Guidance Office. No one, except the senior leadership of the group, knows the number and names of this council's members, but who are expected to be more than 150. It gets even more difficult to know any information about the lower organizational levels of the group, including administrative offices, regional offices and sub-committees.

Moreover, it seems impossible to determine the number of regular members involved in the Brotherhood. It may be a surprise to know that there have been no declared statistics by any state institution, the MB, security services, media or even researchers about the actual number of MB members. The latest statistics mentioned in a few historical sources of the second half of 1940s revealed that there were about 500,000 members who had paid subscriptions.

This situation opens the door for all kinds of estimates about the number of MB members, whether those based on indicators and standards, or absurd speculation.

Some of those interested in the phenomenon of Islamic groups provide their personal estimates to create political propaganda, based on alleged studies.  The estimation of the MB members in Egypt requires a deeper study based on scientific research methods, through a set of criteria and indicators over the last years.

The second most important indicator is the voting bloc of the group - the number of votes received by the MB candidates in parliamentary elections - from 1984 until 2005, when they received 1.7 million votes.

Most independent analysts and MB leaders said that this figure included votes of those who basically oppose the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which are estimated at about 40% of the total votes gained by the Brotherhood. The MB had targeted to win about 50 or 60 seats in that election, however the "punitive votes" secured 88 seats for the group.

The third criterion is the nature of membership in the group. There are three levels of membership, including potentials, regular members and acting members. The first level extends to six months, the second lasts for three years, and then they are upgraded to the third category. Moreover, there is a wider circle which includes the supporters of the group outside its organizational structure.

The fourth criterion is the number of MB detainees over the last years, starting from 1995. The available statistics from human rights groups, some of them close to the group, said that the estimated number of MB detainees reached 20,000, some of whom were frequently jailed. Most of those detainees belong to the organizational cadres of the group including the Guidance Office. In 2007, one of the human rights groups said that 90% of MB detainees are actually members of the group.

The fifth criterion is the number of participants in the largest demonstrations held by the Brotherhood in 2005, which are estimated at more than 60,000 protesters. With this information, we can now provide a more accurate estimate of the number of MB members.

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