A senior leader of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood Friday said his ‘moderate’ organization does not want power in Egypt and is only looking for “a democratic system according to the Islamic principles.” In response, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told CNN’s John King he was very skeptical, but there might be no choice but to take a chance.
In his interview on CNN, Essam El-Erian said any discussions with the government can only take place after the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s reign, but added the Muslim brotherhood has no desire to rule Egypt.
“I think any dialogue must be started after the departure of Mubarak, because the people are protesting in the street and in [Tahrir] square and they are insisting to continue and tell Mubarak [to] step down,” he told King. “We are not going to run in the general election. We are not looking for power at all, we are not going to hand the power to ourselves, or negotiate about that.”
King noted some U.S. politicians want to stick with Mubarak, because of their fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will take power, break the peace treaty with Israel, and destroy Egypt’s relationship with the United States.
“This is a very, very wrong accusation. [The] Muslim Brotherhood are well known – they are a moderate Islamic organization asking for, seeking for, a democratic system according to the Islamic principles and utilizing models of democracy all over the world,” El-Erian said, adding that the Brotherhood “can add to a more material civilization by giving democracy some spiritual and moral aspects.”
Analysts have said recent comments from the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership have been carefully worded to show they are part of Egyptian society. Nelson noted he was very skeptical of the Brotherhood spokesman’s statements, saying that terrorist group Hamas made a similar declaration before it won an election and took over the Gaza Strip.
“I do not take them at their word; I think we have to be very careful,” Nelson said. “I think we have to be skeptical – but we [might] have no choice.”
“This is a time for representative democracy and we are going to have to take some risks,” said Nelson, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, adding “of course our big fear is that there would be a radical Islam that would take over and of course that would be chaos.
“I mean this is a seminal moment in the Middle East,” he said. “Which way Egypt goes, is going to determine an awful lot of what happens [regionally] in the future.”
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