The Associated Press is reporting on calls by a coalition of Egyptian opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, for a million person march to take place in Cairo on Tuesday. The report also includes comments by a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson regarding the opposition coalition’s demands. According to the report:
A coalition of opposition groups called for a million people to take to Cairo’s streets Tuesday to demand the removal of President Hosni Mubarak, the clearest sign yet that a unified leadership was emerging for Egypt’s powerful but disparate protest movement…. In Cairo, the coalition of groups, dominated by youth movements but including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, were discussing the possibility of making prominent reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei spokesman for the protesters, members said. Spokesmen for several of the groups said some 30 to 40 representatives were meeting to discuss the future of Egypt after Mubarak, whom they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power. They said the coalition wants the march from Tahrir Square to force Mubarak, 82, to step down by Friday. The Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to form an Islamist state in the Arab world’s largest nation, said it would not take a leadership role in the opposition coalition. Western governments and many secular Egyptians have expressed fears about a significant Brotherhood role in Egyptian politics. “We don’t want to harm this revolution,” Mohamed Mahdi Akef, a former leader of the group, said. ElBaradei, a pro-democracy advocate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, invigorated anti-Mubarak feeling with his return to Egypt last year, but the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood remains Egypt’s largest opposition movement. Its support base comes in large part from its elaborate network of social, medical and education services. It made a suprisingly strong showing in parliamentary elections in 2005, winning 20 percent of the legislature’s seats, but it failed to win a single seat in elections held late last year and are widely throught to have been rigged in favor of Mubarak’s ruling party. Mubarak, a former air force commander in office since 1981, is known to have zero tolerance for Islamists in politics, whether they are militants or moderates, and it remains highly unlikely that he would allow his government to engage in any dialogue with the Brotherhood. Rashad al-Bayoumi, the Brotherhood’s deputy leader, said that, “What we hope to reach in today’s meeting is formulating a united strategy to remove Mubarak … “What we have here is the Egyptian people’s biggest chance to affect regime change.” Al-Bayoumi told The Associated Press that a joint committee would issue demands that, besides Mubarak’s ouster, include the release of political prisoners, setting up a transitional government to run the country until free and fair elections are held and prosecuting individuals thought to be responsible for the killing of protesters. A leading Muslim Brotherhood official, Saad el-Katatni, told The Associated Press that “we didn’t deputize anybody because we don’t want anybody to be solely in charge,” but if the coalition agrees on naming ElBaradei, “this is fine.”
It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood today has become a global network and that the Egyptian mother branch is not necessarily the most important part of the movement. Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, is often referred to by the GMBDW as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide.
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