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Egypt declares Muslim Brotherhood legal for first time

Egypt officially declared the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) [party website; JURIST news archive] legal Tuesday for the first time since the powerful political organization's inception nearly 80 years ago. An Egyptian elections commission approved [AFP report] the formation of the MB's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The MB announced the FJP on April 30, which is set to challenge for half the parliament seats in the upcoming September elections. The MB was founded in 1928 and was officially banned in Egypt in 1954. But under former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive], the organization was mostly tolerated. MB chairman Dr. Mohamed Badie expressed his pleasure [press release] with the acceptance of the FJP and called on it to advocate for a civil state that promote Islamic values. A Gallup poll released Sunday suggests that only a small minority of Egyptians support the MB [AP report] and less than one percent are in favor of an Iran-style Islamic theocracy. However, the poll showed that 69 percent were in favor of religious leaders having an "advisory role."

The MB first announced in February that it would form a party [LAT report] to participate in upcoming elections. In years past, numerous MB members attempting to run for office in Egypt were arrested [JURIST reports]. The MB is gaining full recognition as a result of the uprisings across the Middle East that began earlier this year. Last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] granted amnesty to political prisoners including all members of the previously banned MB, in a move seen as an attempt by Assad to defuse the 10-week uprising in Syria to overthrow the government.

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