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"Missionaries and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt"

Thursday, March 21, 2013
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 South University

It is no accident that the decade in which Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood emerged – the 1920s -- was also the decade in which Protestant missionaries hit their moment of greatest strength in the Nile Valley. Egypt was rife with evangelicals, whose enthusiasm gave rise to numerous incidents, often involving children, which in turn provoked a strong anti-missionary response.

The Muslim Brotherhood stood in the front lines in battles with missionaries for the bodies and souls of Egyptian youth. Yet this is not just a story of the Brotherhood arising out of a contest with evangelicals. When faced with missionary inroads in health, education, and social welfare, the Muslim Brotherhood very consciously “fought them with their own weapons.” Foreign missionaries helped to mobilize the organization and give it its shape. Although American, British, and other Protestant evangelicals failed at mass conversion, they succeeded in transforming Egyptian society and politics in ways they had not imagined.