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The Muslim Brotherhood & Democracy

Samara Greenberg

At a press conference Wednesday, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said it rejects a religious state in Egypt and will promote democracy. “The Muslim Brotherhood are not seeking power,” Mohammed Morsi, a member of the group’s media office, said. “We want to participate, not to dominate,” he added. “We reject the religious state,” said Mohammed Katatny, former head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc, in an effort to dispel fears of the contrary.

But fears that the Muslim Brotherhood could hijack Egypt’s uprising are not unfounded, and there is proof that the Brotherhood’s words are mere rhetoric rather than true organizational ideology.

A group of protesters hold an impromptu demonstration outside of Tahrir Square in Cairo on Feb. 9.

Indeed, while the Brotherhood praises democracy and secularism, it does so because the democratic process can be exploited to establish an Islamic regime. In its 2007 political platform, the Brotherhood noted its participation was “to fulfill Allah’s commands in peaceful ways, using existing constitutional institutions and a decision determined by the ballot box.”

But Allah’s commands, as its website states, are not democratic. They seek “to establish one Islamic state of united Islamic countries, one nation under one leadership whose mission will be to reinforce adherence to the law of Allah….The goal…is the establishment of a world Islamic state…. And if prayer is a pillar of the faith, then jihad is its summit…and death in the path of Allah is the summit of aspiration.”

Tellingly, last Thursday Rashad al-Bayoumi, a deputy leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, called on any government that replaces Hosni Mubarak’s regime to withdraw from Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. “After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel,” al-Bayoumi said on Japan’s NHTV.

The Obama administration has said that it supports a role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a new Egyptian government as long as the organization rejects violence and recognizes democratic goals. But as the quotes above illustrate, the Brotherhood doesn’t always mean what it says. For more eye-opening translations of Muslim Brotherhood writings, click here and here.