(An Egyptian protester holds up a Koran while participating in a rally at Tahrir square in Cairo July 29, 2011.REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

The Muslim Brotherhood has quietly spread its influence far beyond Egypt in its 84-year history, but Arab revolts have opened broad new political horizons the group hopes will reflect its founder’s vision for the Arab and Islamic world.

“There is no doubt that Hassan al-Banna believed in Islamic unity and not just Arab unity. But with such a vision we must consider reality and what is possible,” said Mahmoud Ghozlan, a member of the Brotherhood’s executive bureau.

Interviewed at the group’s new headquarters in Cairo, he called such unity a “long-term objective”, but seemed alive to the possibilities thrown up by a ferment in which Islamists are driving mainstream politics across North Africa and beyond.

“This region is in a period of deep-rooted change,” the 64-year-old said. “Starting from Tunisia and ending with Syria, the nature of the region and alliances will change.”