Author Beth Baron describes how one of today's most notorious and polarizing organizations first came to be.
You describe the Muslim Brotherhood as emerging from a battle “for the bodies and souls of Egypt’s children”—can you elaborate on that? What motivated the formation of this group?
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928 as an Islamic reform organization to combat British colonialism and Westernization as well as the inroads of missionaries. American and other missionaries had started a network of social welfare institutions—hospitals, clinics, schools, and orphanages—as sites where they could spread the message of the gospel. Orphanages became particularly contentious sites, for missionaries had discovered that children who were not under parental care were relatively easy targets for conversion.