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So the Brotherhood would support the maintenance of a secular government?

When the Muslim Brotherhood uses the word “secular,” it does not mean no religion ““ we are talking about what we call a “civilized state.”

What if an Egyptian extremist group like Islamic Jihad wanted to take part in the elections, would this be allowed?

No, if they want to make a terrorist operation against civilians we would jail them and stop them from participating in the elections. We will only accept the peaceful and democratic way in political life. If they use violence, we would jail them.

Do you support the establishment of sharia (Islamic law) in the way the government of Saudi Arabia has established it?

The Brotherhood does not agree with the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, because it is simply not democratic.

That’s from an interview with Khaled Hamza, the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website. He also said that women would get to choose whether to wear the hijab and “women must choose their way of Islam.”

That noise you just heard is the right-wing machine gearing up. All you have to do is hint at the Muslim Brotherhood and Rush Limbaugh screams like a punk. Once Fox News gets going it only amplifies the factoids. We’re about to see whether America can grow up to accept the larger Arab world as it is, instead of believing the propagandists who make their living on scaring the crap out of people.

Geraldo Rivera was captured in action by News Hounds. His recent hyperbole represents the Right’s line pretty well:

Live and At Large with a scary question: Are Islamic radicals already taking advantage of the turmoil in the Middle East? Today, in the nation where the current chaos sweeping Egypt and other Arab nations start(ed), Tunisia, a long-outlawed Islamic terrorist organization returned in triumph. Is Egypt next?

Chris Matthews invoked the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda together (see video above), with Marc Lynch and Brian Katulis quickly disabusing Matthews of the talking point. It was nice not to see the usual suspects like Frank Gafney bellowing words of warning about the evil of groups that you simply cannot paint one color.

The inevitable shift happening in Egypt, no matter how long it takes to manifest, will require due diligence to keep the story on the path of facts. Nobody’s going to say that what’s unfolding will land quietly or easily, but everyone needs to keep from sucking scare tactics up with a straw.

Foreign Policy has a post up on the MB that’s most interesting, including a frank conversation with Dr. Abdel Monem Abul-Futouh, a “liberal” member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Ruling Council. The notion of a Caliphate was discussed:

I asked him about the fears many Americans have concerning the MB’s stated goal of “restoring the Islamic Caliphate”: Shouldn’t we in the West be concerned about that, I asked?

“If different Islamic states want to come together and make a political union, why shouldn’t they?” he replied. “If it’s okay for the Europeans to come together, and before that, the various north American states came together and made a union– why shouldn’t the Islamic states do it, too?” But maybe you’ll want to come and extend your Caliphate over our countries, as well, I said.

No, no! Islamic understandings make it haram [religiously forbidden] to overcome others by force. But anyway, why do you speak of this fear of being overcome by us when it is you who have overcome our countries. You’re occupying our countries and controlling so many aspects of our lives here! So it is foolish for you to speak of a fear of being overcome by us.

That won’t settle some minds.

But it’s not our country, so the important thing is to understand it. Respect for what Egypt’s people are doing is as important as humility, which Steve Clemons mentioned today on Al Jazeera English, something the U.S. isn’t good at mustering on the Middle East.

The author’s conclusions:

1. The MB is a significant force in Egyptian politics;

2. Its leaders’ clear decision to participate in the January 28 street protests (where they had been noticeably ambivalent about the protests called three days earlier) expanded the protest movement to the point where, since January 28, it has threatened to topple Mubarak;

3. The MB’s participation in the protests has been peaceful and has included constant public calls — from the MB, as from other opposition parties — that the whole popular action be conducted peacefully;

4. The MB has shown its willingness to work in coalition with the secular opposition forces who have formed an important spearhead of the country’s democratic movement; it has also announced its support for the (perhaps transitional) leadership of Mohamed ElBaradei, who has cast himself primarily as a constitutionalist with no other political/ideological “flavor”;

5. The MB has sent many clear signals of its desire for stability inside the country, and a determination to avoid a broad range of actions that might be seen by others as provocative: in the protests, its people have not thus far been shouting religious slogans, raising religious banners, or openly expressing anti-U.S. or even anti-Israeli sentiment;

6. The degree of discipline this has all involved has been impressive.

Tomorrow is another step forward for the Egyptian people and the Muslim Brotherhood is part of it.

The news that the Egyptian Army will not fire on protesters was a very important signal today, which everyone hopes will hold. Read Steve Cook’s piece on the Egyptian Army, which is a big piece of this story if the people are going to prevail.

UPDATE V (2.1 – 10:00 a.m. EST): John Kerry op-ed today. Been thinking how US relying on 1 man Middle East policy for decades similar to Bush relying on Musharaff. Tactical, reactive, not strategic, which Kerry nails perfectly.

… For three decades, the United States pursued a Mubarak policy. Now we must look beyond the Mubarak era and devise an Egyptian policy.

UPDATE IV (2.1 – 9:52 a.m. EST): John Kerry, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations committee, saying publicly what any sane Middle East watcher is muttering under his or her breath:

“President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure,” Kerry wrote in a New York Times op-ed article published Tuesday morning. “One of the toughest jobs that a leader under siege can perform is to engineer a peaceful transition. But Egyptians have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.”

UPDATE III (2.1 – 9:25 a.m. EST): Nicholas Kristoff tweet pic from Tahrir Square:

UPDATE II (2.1. – 8:45 a.m. EST): Latest screen capture from Al Jazeera English, huge banner saying “PEOPLE DEMAND REMOVAL OF THE REGIME.”

UPDATE (2.1): The screen capture below showing AJArabic’s signal down has been confirmed by people inside Egypt.