Obama Gives Green Light to the Muslim Brotherhood

Obama Gives Green Light to the Muslim
Brotherhood

February 3rd, 2011

Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post

As it braces for the likelihood of a new ruler in Egypt, the U.S. government
is rapidly reassessing its tenuous relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, an
opposition movement whose fundamentalist ideology has long been a source of
distrust in Washington.
Although the group has played a secondary role in the swelling protests that
are threatening to topple President Hosni Mubarak, U.S. officials have
acknowledged the political reality that the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to
assume at least a share of power should Egypt hold free and fair elections in
the coming months.
On Monday, in what analysts said was a clear reference to the Brotherhood,
the White House said a new government in Egypt should “include a whole host of
important non-secular actors.”
The move drew the skepticism of some U.S. officials who have argued that the
White House should embrace opposition groups that are more likely to support a
democratic government in Egypt, rather than one dedicated to the establishment
of religious law…
Members of the movement are often vague about their political goals. In an
interview this week with the BBC, Kamal el-Helbawy, a Muslim Brotherhood leader
in exile in Britain, said the group wants “freedom, consultation, equality,
freedom of everything.”
He ducked questions, however, about whether an Egyptian government led by the
Brotherhood would guarantee equal rights for other religious groups – such as
Egypt’s Coptic Christians – and women. When asked whether all women would be
required to wear veils, he said, “not necessarily.”
…Analysts said the movement strives in public to play down concerns about its
agenda, partly for self-preservation. By presenting itself as a moderate group
that would embrace a multi-party democracy, it seeks to preempt worries about
its goals, said Emad Shahin, an Egyptian American scholar at the University of
Notre Dame.
“They don’t want to be seen as taking part in an uprising or upheaval that
seeks to establish an Iranian-type government,” he said. “They need to shield
themselves behind a broader opposition front.”
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