The PJ Tatler

It begins: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood applies to become a political party

Contra James Clapper, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t Egypt’s nod to the YMCA. They’re organized, they’re ambitious and they’re setting up to take part in the country’s fall elections.

The Brotherhood announced Tuesday that it would form a party once promised freer laws are in place.

“The Muslim Brotherhood group believes in the freedom of the formation of political parties. They are eager to have a political party,” spokesman Mohammed Mursi said in a statement on the Brotherhood website.

Essam el-Arian, a prominent Brotherhood figures, said the movement would not run any candidate for upcoming presidential elections, acknowledging that such a move would be too controversial.

“We are not going to have a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. Its time for solidarity, its time for unity, in my opinion we need a national consensus,” he said. But he said the Brotherhood’s top leadership had decided on the creation of a party.

The Brotherhood’s charter calls for creation of an Islamic state in Egypt, and Mubarak’s regime depicted the Brotherhood as aiming to take over the country, launching fierce crackdowns on the group. Some Egyptians remain deeply suspicious of the secretive organization, fearing it will exploit the current turmoil to vault to power.

But others – including the secular, liberal youth activists who launched the anti-Mubarak uprising – say the Brotherhood has to be allowed freedom to compete in a democracy alongside everyone else. Support by young cadres in the Brotherhood was key to the protests’ success, providing manpower and organization, though they never came to form a majority in the wave of demonstrations.

Watch out. When they were banned, they picked up about 20 percent support in 2005. Unbanned, it’s not unreasonable that they might become part of a governing coalition, at least.