The portrait of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood that emerges from Kandil’s fascinating and lively book is hardly flattering, highlighting the group’s anti-intellectualism and its emphasis on faith and action over analysis. Before the group came to power in Egypt in 2012, its leadership had long believed that once a community of the faithful formed and won power, government policies and programs would take care of themselves. Small wonder, then, that the democratically elected but short-lived government led by President Mohamed Morsi, who had previously been a Brotherhood leader, proved to be so incompetent. As popular anger against Morsi’s government grew in 2013, the Brotherhood tried to compromise with the army and the security forces, hoping that they could still be won over. Once the army took control, Brotherhood members occupied a square in Cairo to protest, convinced that God would intervene on their behalf. Security forces fired on the demonstration, killing hundreds, and the new regime then outlawed the Brotherhood and arrested all its leaders. Although Kandil laments this “brutal repression,” he clearly thinks that the Brotherhood earned its tribulations.
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