Muslim Brotherhood Throws Support to ElBaradei

Sunday, 30 Jan 2011 03:18 PM

By David A. Patten

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Egypt’s fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, considered the largest opposition party in Egypt, announced Sunday that it is throwing its support behind Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei’s efforts to form a unity transitional government to succeed Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.

ElBaradei, the former nuclear watchdog who served as director general of the  U.N.-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency, Egypt,Muslim, Brotherhood,  Mohamed, ElBaradeiconfirmed on CNN’s  Fareed Zarkia "GPS" program Sunday that “I have been reaching out to them, that we  need to include them, that they are a part of Egyptian society….”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Muslim Brotherhood official Essam el-Eryan told  Al-Jazeera television that “political groups support ElBaradei to negotiate with  the regime.”

That appears back ElBaradei’s assertion Sunday that opposition groups across  Egypt’s political spectrum have united behind him to establish a transitional  government to replace Mubarak, who continues to cling to power with the help of  the nation’s massive military apparatus.

Analysts point out that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is influential in several  Arab nations, is not monolithic in its extremist views. The branch in Egypt is  considered much more focused on bringing about reforms, and less interested in  enforcing orthodoxy about the length of women’s skirts and other social issues.

The Brotherhood has been denounced by al-Qaida for embracing what some call  “Islamic democracy.”

ElBaradei told Zakaria he is “very confident” that Egypt will not go the way of  Iran, which replaced its dictator with a strict Islamic theocracy.

“This is a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime that, ‘It’s either us, the  ruthless dictators, or a Muslim al-Qaida type,’ ElBaradei said. “The Muslim  Brotherhood has nothing to do with Iranian model, has nothing to do with  extremism as we have seen in Afghanistan and other places.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is a conservative religious group. They are a minority  in Egypt, they are not a majority of the Egyptian people, but they have a lot of  credibility because all the other liberal parties have been smothered for 30  years,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed in Egypt, which does not allow the formation  of political parties based on religion.

ElBaradei insists that the Brotherhood understands and agrees that no state  religion should be imposed on Egyptians.

“They are in favor of … ruling on the basis of a constitution that has red lines  that every Egyptian has the same rights, the same obligations, that the state in  no way will be a state based on religion,” he said.

He added that Iran and Egypt are “100 percent different.”

Despite those assurances, many foreign-policy experts in the West continue to  voice concerns that the uprising in Egypt could ultimately strengthen the hand  of Islamic extremists.

They point out that the No. 2 figure in al-Qaida after Osama bin Laden is Ayman  al-Zawahiri, who joined Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood when he was 14.

Al-Zawahiri is wanted both in Egypt and the United States, which has connected  him to the 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.

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