Egyptian-American activist expresses fears of Salafis, Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis represent a danger to the revolution, said Egyptian-American activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, founder of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo.

At a forum on Saturday in Alexandria called "Towards a New Middle East," Ibrahim said he fears the Brotherhood and Salafis will "steal the revolution," citing what happened after the Iranian revolution. Ibrahim said Iran's 1979 revolution was co-opted by Ayatollah Khomeini only 10 months later.

Ibrahim said there's still a chance Egypt's 25 January revolution could fail to bring about its desired results. He added that Salafis and the Brotherhood pose the gravest danger, saying the Brotherhood joined the protests in Tahrir Square only after they had already been going on for four days.

He said Salafis have suddenly imposed themselves on the political scene and started objecting to the decisions of the government.

He expressed fears that holding parliamentary elections at the scheduled time, in light of the current lack of organizations for the revolutionary youth, will likely bring the Brotherhood to power.

Ibrahim described the revolution as the first popular uprising to be carried out by middle-class youth to defend freedom rather than to protest financial conditions.

He said the revolution had a strong impact even on the US government, which he says asked him to explain how the protests broke out.

He added that US President Barack Obama's administration was not sure whether to lend its support to former President Hosni Mubarak or the revolution. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first backed the regime, which, he said, was a major mistake only rectified when Obama called on Mubarak to leave after the latter's second speech.

He said he expects Arab revolutions to continue until a new Middle East is created, adding that the Arab world is witnessing a fourth wave of democracy.

Ibrahim, a prominent Egyptian dissident, signed a petition in 2010 supporting a presidential run by Gamal Mubarak, the 47-year-old son of the president. Ibrahim said he had signed the petition – issued by the Popular Coalition in Support of a Gamal Mubarak Candidacy  – “because every Egyptian has the right to run for elections that are free, fair and under international and local supervision.”

He added that a presidential bid by Gamal would not amount to the "inheritance" of the presidency, as has been claimed by younger Mubarak detractors.

This step came in contradiction to a series of articles he wrote in 2000 to warn of power inheritance in Arab countries, following the rise of Gamal in Egyptian political life.

Ibrahim left for the US after his release from prison in 2003. He was imprisoned for tarnishing the reputation of Egypt, charges of which he was later acquitted by the Court of Cassation. He returned to Egypt in August 2010.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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