MEDILL: Muslim Brotherhood lacks popularity to govern Egypt, experts say

As protests continue to grow in Egypt, speculations regarding who will take President Hosni Mubarak’s place grow as well. For the past two weeks, U.S. media coverage has portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood to be first in line to succeed Mubarak’s regime.

As Egypt’s largest government opposition group, members of the brotherhood have declared they will not step in to fill Mubarak’s shoes, yet fears have spread that the movement’s more radical element could create further oppression if they were to govern.

However, some say the Muslim Brotherhood is not as radical as most people think.

Scott Hibbard, professor of political science at DePaul University specializing in Middle East studies, said those who fear Islam are largely mistaken, and the Muslim Brotherhood is in fact mostly comprised of doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professionals.

“If you open up the political system in Egypt,” Hibbard said, “the Muslim Brotherhood would invariably play a role. How significant that is it remains to be seen. If you had elections tomorrow, they would probably do well [but] they would not be the prominent force people fear.”

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Chicago’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, said “there’s a misplaced obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.” Rehab spoke by telephone from Cairo, where he arrived shortly before demonstrations began.

Hibbard said of the organization, “If you look at what they’ve been advocating, they’re really out of step with what a lot of the other protestors are talking about. The vast majority of the protestors are not calling for an Islamic state; they’re calling for government reform, economic reform and social justice.”

Listen to Ahmed’s phone interview HERE