As Egypt goes to the polls, what are the intentions of the country’s most powerful political force?
A dredger moves slowly through the glistening, soupy waters of Egypt’s Lake Timsah, also known as Crocodile Lake. A Mubarak doll, dressed in faded jeans and with a noose around its neck, hangs at the jetty for the ferry across the Suez Canal.
If it weren’t for Hassan al-Banna, there wouldn’t be much else to report from Ismailia, a provincial city redolent of eucalyptus, located two hours northeast of Cairo next to Lake Timsah. Banna was a 20-year-old elementary school teacher who came to the city in 1927.
Banna’s arrival in Ismailia marked the beginning of a story that has had as much of an impact on Egypt and the world as the famous canal. It is the story of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to become the strongest organized force in political Islam, as well as a powerful player in Egypt, where a new president will be elected on May 23 and 24. One of the key issues in the election is the question of what role Islam will play in the future life of the republic.
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