Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood seeks power, softens image

The Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt on Wednesday submitted an application for official recognition of its newly-formed Freedom and Justice political party, which will run in upcoming parliamentary elections.

The party, which claims to be secular and completely distinct from the Muslim Brotherhood, is hoping to win around half of the parliamentary seats in September.

In order to soften its hard-line Islamist image, the party has appointed a Coptic Christian as vice president and invited Christians and women to join its ranks, although it emphasized strict adherence to Islamic values as the core of its political doctrine.

The application documents list 8,821 founding members, including 978 women and 93 Copts. According to new legislation, the party will be considered officially registered if its application is not rejected by authorities within a month.

In the meantime, the Freedom and Justice party is planning to set up a political bureau and a network of regional branches in each of Egypt’s 27 provinces.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 and banned in 1954, has always been one of the most potent, well-funded and ?most organized religious groups in Egypt, but for the last four decades its potential as a political force remained limited.

The overthrow of long-time Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in February led to fears that the Brotherhood would take control of the largely secular state, although the movement, banned under Mubarak, played a low-key role in the protests that overthrew him.

CAIRO, May 18 (RIA Novosti) 

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