Speaking on NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, Carnegie’s Nathan Brown explained that the release of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on August 22nd was a political rather than legal move, because the political context in Egypt today is very different from when Mubarak was arrested. But while many Egyptians have moved on, “the core constituency from the Egyptian revolution back in 2011, however, is likely to see this as a betrayal and a reversal,” Brown warned.

Nathan J. Brown
Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, is a distinguished scholar and author of six well-received books on Arab politics.
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Brown noted that Egypt is in the middle of a very different set of political conflicts, in an atmosphere of both political and social repression. “The real question has to do with the role of Islam in public life and, especially, who speaks for Islam in public life,” Mr. Brown said. “That’s what the conflict is and that’s really, I think, more of a political conflict than a religious one.”

The current crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood is a departure from the cat and mouse game of the Mubarak era, Brown argued, when the conflict was between a regime that wanted to retain control and a Brotherhood trying to find ways to continue operating. He said it was a return back to the 1940s and 1950s when there were attempts to shut down the organization as a whole.

In the years since the Egyptian revolution, the Brotherhood managed to establish itself as a normal political actor in Egyptian politics, Brown concluded. But while the West came to accept the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power, some states in the region viewed it as a real threat.

This interview was originally aired on NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show.