A German news magazine features an interview in which Mohamed El-Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and now opposition politician in Egypt, defends the Muslim Brotherhood. According to an excerpt from that interview:
ElBaradei: The president can no longer be allowed to be omnipotent. It must become possible to vote him and his government out of office when they fail. We need an independent justice system and a free press. Egyptian citizens must be allowed to elect their representatives in an atmosphere that is free of state pressure, irrespective of religion and gender. Why not have a woman as head of government? Why not a Coptic Christian?
SPIEGEL: And you want to advance this progressive program with the help of the Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood?
ElBaradei: It is true that I have spoken with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and that we discussed the struggle against Mubarak.
SPIEGEL: There is talk of a “strategic partnership.”
ElBaradei: I speak with all representatives of the opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood is not allowed to form a party, but their individual candidates take up 20 percent of the seats in parliament. They enjoy respect because they are socially active. They have been portrayed as allies of bin Laden, which is complete nonsense. One doesn’t have to agree with their conservative-religious ideas, but they are a part of our society. They have every right to participate in the development of this society if they pursue their path in a democratic manner, free of violence.
SPIEGEL: But that is exactly what observers have their doubts about. And they believe that the Islamists are using you to get into power.
ElBaradei: That won’t happen. I take the Muslim Brotherhood at their word. Egypt is a country shaped by Islam. I will only avail myself as an agent for democratic change.
SPIEGEL: Are democracy and Islam really compatible?
ElBaradei: In one sura in the Koran, it says that a ruler must consult his people, only then can he rule justly. One can start there. At the end of the day, Islam, like any religion, is what you make out of it.
A previous post reported that Mr. El-Baradei included the Muslim Brotherhood in the national opposition front that he had inaugurated.