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,
confirmed 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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