Muslim Brotherhood's Rashad al-Bayoumi 'The Revolution Will Continue Until Our Demands Are Met'
The West is worried that the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood will take on an influential role in post-Mubarak Egypt. SPIEGEL spoke with the group's deputy leader, Rashad al-Bayoumi, about what the Brotherhood wants, the West's "refusal to listen," and non-violence.
SPIEGEL: Are we seeing the beginning of a new era for Egypt?
Bayoumi: After 30 years of oppression, corruption and dictatorship, we are definitely standing at a crossroads. The question now is do we want to make way for democracy and human rights, or do we still want dictatorship? The revolution will continue until our demands are met.
SPIEGEL: And what are they?
Bayoumi: First, we need a regime change. We want a new government. Second, we need new elections. The current parliament has no legitimacy and only took office following massive election fraud. Third, all political prisoners must be released immediately. We want justice. And, finally, we need a transitional government that includes representatives from all opposition groups.
SPIEGEL: Does this transitional government also include leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei? Do you accept him as a candidate?
Bayoumi: Our demands are compatible with the demands of all opposition groups, including the young people -- and not just from within the political parties. It is, however, too early to talk about new leaders. Now the people will first have to decide -- let's let the people speak.
SPIEGEL: The Muslim Brotherhood is widely regarded as the largest opposition movement in Egypt. Why are you not present at the demonstrations?
Bayoumi: That is ridiculous! Of course we are present. But we are keeping a low profile as an organization. We are not marching with our slogans. We don't want this revolution to be portrayed as a revolution of the Muslim Brothers, as an Islamic revolution. This is a popular uprising by all Egyptians.
SPIEGEL: In the West there is the fear that the Brotherhood is preparing to take power -- that they want to transform Egypt into an Islamic state.
Bayoumi: The West refuses to listen to us. We are not demons. We want peace, not violence. Our religion is not a diabolical religion. Our religion respects people of other faiths, these are our principles. But this regime purposely misrepresents us and manipulates public opinion.
SPIEGEL: How many members does your movement have?
Bayoumi: I don't know -- we don't count them. The government says that there are over three million of us. All I know is that we are everywhere, in every city, every village, every neighborhood. We are an essential part of the people.
SPIEGEL: How many Egyptians would vote for you if free elections were actually held in the near future?
Bayoumi: Let's wait until the people speak. This is a period of upheaval and democratic transition. That is what we want to talk about now, not election results.
SPIEGEL: Will calm return to Egypt?
Bayoumi: The government is solely responsible for the chaos. I promise you that the Muslim Brotherhood has not called for violence, nor will we do so.
Interview conducted by Daniel Steinvorth and Volkhard Windfuhr