Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Delegation Visits Washington

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Delegation Visits Washington

Article excerpt

In an effort to quell the unease surrounding their sudden ascent to power, representatives of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) visited Washington, DC in early April. Over the course of their stay, the FJP delegation spoke at several public events and met with Obama administration officials.

At an April 4 Georgetown University event sponsored by the school's Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Sondos Asem, senior editor of the Brotherhood's English-language Web site, explained that the purpose of the delegation's visit was "to start building bridges of understanding with the United States." Asem stated that freedom, human dignity, democracy and justice are the FJP's core principles.

Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a member of parliament from Luxor, discussed the FJP's plan to rejuvenate Egypt's ailing economy. The FJP believes that private enterprise must be expanded in Egypt, he said, and that the country must increase its participation in the global economy. "The state must not control, but empower young Egyptians," he emphasized. Dardery also stated that the FJP will work to ensure that all Egyptians have access to clean water, food, schools and hospitals.

Following their opening remarks, the FJP delegation faced a barrage of challenging but important questions from the audience.

Amin Mahmoud of the Egyptian Association for Change pressed the FJP on its role in the constitution-writing Constituent Assembly. (Cairo's Administrative Court has since disbanded the Constituent Assembly.) Mahmoud accused the FJP of "doing what Mubarak used to do"-attempting to use the Constituent Assembly as a means to commandeer the constitution-writing process.

Dardery responded that the Brotherhood had a smaller percentage of seats in the 100-member Constituent Assembly than it currently holds in Parliament, adding that the FJP is dedicated to making the constitution-writing process "as inclusive as possible."

Why the FJP recanted on its pledge to not field a candidate in Egypt's May 2012 presidential election was on the minds of many in attendance. Hussein El-Kazzaz, an adviser to the FJP, explained that the party reversed its decision due to changing realities on the ground. …

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