US media have reported recent comments by opposition politician Mohamed El-Baradei in which he has attempted to reassure the West about any role that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood might play in a future government. An Internet news portal reported the following remarks by El-Baradei made on ABC News:
Baradei said that the fear a post-Mubarak Egypt would turn into another Islamic fundamentalist country like Iran “was a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime” to keep the support of Western governments. He said the Muslim Brotherhood, which had the largest organized opposition to the government, did not pose the threat of turning Egypt into another Iran. “This is totally bogus,” ElBaradei said. “They are no way extremists. They are no way using violence. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people. They will not be more than maybe 20 percent of the Egyptian people. You have to include them like, you know, new evangelical, you know, groups in the U.S., like the orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.” ElBaradei said that there was a “100 percent difference” between Egypt and Iran.
In a CNN interview, El-Baradei continued along similar lines
ZAKARIA: Mohamed, one of the visions that haunts Americans is of the Iranian revolution, where a dictator, pro-American dictator, was replaced by an even worse regime that was even more anti-American and more threatening to the region. People worry about the Muslim Brotherhood. Are you confident that a post-Mubarak Egypt will not give rise to some kind of Islamic fundamentalist force that will undermine the democracy of Egypt?
ELBARADEI: I’m quite confident of that, Fareed. This is a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime, that it’s either us, the ruthless dictators, or above (ph) them the al Qaida types.
You know, the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism, as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative 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.
They are in favor of a federalist (ph) state. They are in favor of a wording on the base of constitution that has red lines (ph) that every Egyptian has the same rights, same obligation, that the state in no way will be a state based on religion. And I have been reaching out to them. We need to include them. They are part of the Egyptian society, as much as the Marxist party here. I think this myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime has no – has no iota of reality.
As you know, Fareed, I’ve worked with Iranians, I’ve worked here. There is 100 percent difference between the two societies.
In the same same CNN interview, El-Baradei appears to evade the question of the current Egyptian peace treaty with Israel under a government that included the Muslim Brotherhood:
ZAKARIA: If there were a democratic government with Muslim Brotherhood participation, do you believe that Egypt would still be at peace with Israel?
ELBARADEI: Of course. I mean, I – again, the whole issue of peace in the Middle East is an issue which everybody – nobody wants to go to war, Fareed. Nobody was – not want not to have peace in the region, but as you know, the (inaudible) the credibility is not really whether you are supported by a dictator here. It’s whether you have a fair-handed policy, vis-a-vis the Palestinians. And that is really the question. The criteria is not the reaction of the Egyptians. And you’ll get the same reaction under Mubarak, under a democracy. The people feel they are unfairly treated. There is a double standard vis-a-vis the Palestinian issue, and that will continue.
But if you want to have Egypt and the rest of the Arab world have into policy as recognition of Israel, well, you need to review your policy. And however, you know, whatever, what – whatever is going to happen, you know, I am confident that dialogue, negotiation between democracies is much more effective than dialogue between dictators who are in no way representing their people.
Previous posts discussed reports that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has backed Mohamed El-Baradei as the lead spokesman for the country’s opposition groups. The Journal report also cited a Brotherhood spokesperson who ways “their religious goals need to be put on the back burner.” Other posts have discussed cooperation between El-Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and now opposition politician, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, El-Baradei’s defense of the Muslim Brotherhood and his inclusion of the organization in a national opposition front which he inaugurated.
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