Pajamams media has published a rather extraordinary interview with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Esam El-Erian. As the interviewer suggests, we will let Mr. El-Erian speak for himself. The interviewer begins:
I just met with a high-ranking member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo while large ongoing demonstrations against Egypt’s ruling military junta continue 24 hours a day in Tahrir Square downtown. Every political party in the country is at that square right now except the Muslim Brotherhood. If you want to meet with them, you have to take a taxi down to their headquarters.My friend, colleague, and traveling companion Armin Rosen is with me. He and I have spoken to liberals, socialists, small-l libertarians, intellectuals, human rights activists, moderate establishment figures, professors, local journalists, Egyptian foreign policy experts, and a bunch of random people. The range of political opinion right now in Egypt is much wider than it was before. The January revolution really broke this place open. It’s physically and culturally the same country I visited before, but it’s politically unrecognizable as the Egypt I knew. Everyone outside Egypt wants to know more about the Muslim Brotherhood, though, so I’m going to start by letting you read the entire conversation Armin and I had with one of its most prominent figures. Be careful, though. Don’t assume this man represents Egypt’s political center. He doesn’t. The Muslim Brotherhood speaks for itself and represents only a large minority. It was the largest and best organized opposition group during Hosni Mubarak’s rule, but that was partly a function of it being the only sizeable organization that was semi-tolerated by the regime for its own reasons. Now that Egyptians are free to go their own way, there are roughly 40 different political parties. The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t the only available “protest vote” any more. I’ve already met people who have abandoned the Muslim Brothers to join liberals and leftists, partly because they’re tired of rigid old men, but also because more liberal options are finally viable. And the Brotherhood itself is rupturing into relatively moderate and reactionary fragments. It is still a powerful force, though, powerful enough that the United States government thinks it might be a good idea to establish contacts with the party. And the Brothers will no doubt have an impact on regional politics even if they do end up, at the end of the day, smaller (and therefore with a harder core) than they recently were. If you’ve been wondering whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood in its current form is a moderate or an extremist organization, I will let this interview with one of its senior officials, executive bureau member Esam El-Erian, speak for itself.”
Read the rest here.