The violence that has erupted across Egypt in recent days is the result of government panic at the success of the Muslim Brotherhood - even in the rigged polls that pass for elections in the Arab world's most populous country. As the second round of voting opened on Sunday in Egypt's tightly restricted parliamentary contest, around 500 of our members were arrested at dawn and machete-wielding thugs attacked our supporters at polling stations. But the provocations of a corrupt, oppressive government - backed by the most powerful countries in the world - will not intimidate either our organisation, which has survived for 77 years, or the Egyptian people, who have increasingly come to trust us.My question: is this the first time a Brotherhood leader publishes in a major Western newspaper?
Despite the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood - or rather because of it - the organisation continues to be banned in Egypt. Nevertheless, by standing as independents whose affiliation is widely known, 17 of our members managed to be elected as the largest opposition group in the last parliament.
Given the pressure for change, we mobilised to win more seats in the hope that these new elections would be more honest and free. We are committed to democracy and to respect fair election results, whatever the outcome. But we have contested only 120 of the 444 parliamentary seats, knowing that standing for more might provoke the regime into fixing the results. The first round of parliamentary elections, in which the Muslim Brotherhood won more than 65% of seats it contested despite large-scale rigging and intimidation, confirm that our movement is seen by the public as a viable political alternative. But in spite of the confidence the Egyptian people have in us, we are not seeking more than a small piece of the parliamentary cake. This decision is dictated by political realities, both locally and internationally: in other words, the possible reaction of a repressive government backed to the hilt by the US and other western governments.