Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
The historic victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi in Egypt's presidential election marks a revolution for the Islamist movement in the country where it was born and, for decades, banned.
The movement is Egypt's oldest and largest Islamist organisation, meaning its ideology is based on the teachings of the Koran.
Founded by Hassan al-Banna in the 1920s, the Brotherhood - or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Arabic - has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.
The movement initially aimed simply to spread Islamic morals and good works, but soon became involved in politics, particularly the fight to rid Egypt of British colonial control and cleanse it of all Western influence.
While the Ikhwan say that they support democratic principles, one of its stated aims is to create a state ruled by Islamic law, or Sharia. Its most famous slogan, used worldwide, is: "Islam is the solution".Paramilitary wing
After Banna launched the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, branches were set up throughout the country - each running a mosque, a school and a sporting club - and its membership grew rapidly.
By the late 1940s, the group is believed to have had as many as two million followers in Egypt, and its ideas had spread across the Arab world.
At the same time, Banna created a paramilitary wing, the Special Apparatus, whose operatives joined the fight against British rule and engaged in a campaign of bombings and assassinations.
The Egyptian government dissolved the group in late 1948 for attacking British and Jewish interests. Soon afterwards, the group was accused of assassinating Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Nuqrashi.
Banna denounced the killing, but he was subsequently shot dead by an unknown gunman - believed to have been a member of the security forces.
In 1952, colonial rule came to an end following a military coup d'etat led by a group of young officers calling themselves the Free Officers.
The Ikhwan played a supporting role - Anwar al-Sadat, who became president in 1970, was once the Free Officers' liaison with them - and initially co-operated with the new government, but relations soon soured.
- Egypt's oldest and largest Islamist organisation
- Founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928
- Has influenced Islamist movements worldwide
- Mixes political activism with charity work
- Rejects use of violence and supports democratic principles
- Wants to create a state governed by Islamic law
- Slogan: "Islam is the solution"
After a failed attempt to assassinate President Gamal Abdul Nasser in 1954, the Ikhwan were blamed, banned, and thousands of members imprisoned and tortured. The group continued, however, to grow underground.
This clash with the authorities prompted an important shift in the ideology of the Ikhwan, evident in the writing of one prominent member, Sayyid Qutb.
Qutb's work advocated the use of jihad (struggle) against jahili (ignorant) societies, both Western and so-called Islamic ones, which he argued were in need of radical transformation.
His writings - particularly the 1964 work Milestones - inspired the founders of many radical Islamist groups, including Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda.
In 1965, the government again cracked down on the Ikhwan, executing Qutb in 1966 - transforming him into a martyr for many people across the region.Crackdown
During the 1980s, the Ikhwan attempted to rejoin the political mainstream.
Successive leaders formed alliances with the Wafd party in 1984, and with the Labour and Liberal parties in 1987, becoming the main opposition force in Egypt. In 2000, the Ikhwan won 17 seats in the People's Assembly.
Five years later, the group achieved its best election result up to then, with independent candidates allied to it winning 20% of the seats.
The result shocked President Hosni Mubarak. The government subsequently launched a crackdown on the Ikhwan, detaining hundreds of members, and instituted a number of legal "reforms" to counter their resurgence.
The constitution was rewritten to stipulate that "political activity or political parties shall not be based on any religious background or foundation"; independent candidates were banned from running for president; and anti-terrorism legislation that gave the security forces sweeping powers to detain suspects and restrict public gatherings was introduced.
At the beginning of 2011, anti-government demonstrations, apparently encouraged by the Tunisian street protests which prompted the sudden departure of Tunisia's President Ben Ali, kicked off across the country.
Though many members of the Ikhwan joined the protests, they maintained a low profile. The group's traditional slogans were not seen in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
But as the protests grew and the government began to offer concessions, including a promise by Mr Mubarak not to seek re-election in September 2011, Egypt's largest opposition force took a more assertive role.Islamic 'frame of reference'
In the first parliamentary elections following Mubarak's resignation in February 2011, the Ikhwan's newly formed Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won nearly half the seats in the People's Assembly, eclipsing the earlier performances of independents allied to the movement. The ultraconservative Salafist Nour party came second, meaning that Islamists controlled 70% of the seats in the lower house.
In April 2012, the Ikhwan announced they would field a candidate in the presidential election, having previously promised they would not. This raised concerns among liberals, secularists and the military that the movement could become too powerful.
Many critics point to a draft political platform published by the group in 2007, which called for a council of religious scholars to be created to advise the legislative and executive branches in matters of religious law. The platform also stated that non-Muslims or women could not become president or prime minister, because they would be required to undertake some religious functions.
People within the Ikhwan were deeply divided about the latter issue and some have said that this clause is not binding.
They also point out that Egypt's current permanent constitution already proclaims that "Islam is the religion of the state and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation".
Since the revolution, Ikhwan leaders have spoken increasingly of giving legislation an Islamic "frame of reference" and less of the implementation of Sharia. The FJP says it seeks a "civil state based on shura (consultation) and democracy, where the people are the source of power (legislative, judicial and executive)".
Mr Mursi has insisted that as president he wants to build a "democratic, civil and modern state" that guarantees the freedom of religion and right to peaceful protest.
He has also suggested he will appoint Coptic Christians among his presidential advisers, and said an Islamic dress code will not be enforced.