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O Brotherhood, What Art Thou?

How to Classify the Islamist Group

Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood during a protest in front of al Tawheed mosque in Cairo, August 23, 2013. Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

Over the last few years, there has been increasing debate in the West over whether the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group with broad influence in the Middle East, should be considered a terrorist group. In the United Kingdom, Brotherhood-affiliated groups were once allied with the government in its fight against terrorism. But in 2014, then British Prime Minister David Cameron changed course, commissioning a critical inquiry into whether various Brotherhood-inspired organizations in the United Kingdom were a threat to national security. The report concluded that “membership of, association with, or influence by the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism," but did not recommend outright banning the group.

Cameron's move had apparently been influenced by the decisions of United Kingdom's Middle East allies to deal harshly with the Islamist organization. In 2013, after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed in a coup led by

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