Muslim Brotherhood the main opposition party has vowed to 'respect the will of the people' if Mubarak's regime falls
Jack Shenker in Cairo
guardian.co.uk, Monday 31 January 2011
"....Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy, warned that Egypt might take a backward step "into a very reactionary form of religious autocracy". But his words carried limited resonance in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood – the country's largest opposition force – has played little more than a walk-on role in the unprecedented protests that have shaken one of the Middle East's oldest and most entrenched dictatorships.
"There is widespread exaggeration about the role of the Brotherhood in Egyptian society, and I think these demonstrations have exposed that," said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Egypt's political Islamists at Durham University. "At first the movement showed little interest in the protests and announced they weren't going to participate; later they were overtaken by events and forced to get involved or risk losing all credibility."
Egypt's ongoing intifada or uprising has been largely leaderless, planned initially by secular online activist groups and quickly gathering a momentum of its own, as protesters managed to beat riot police off the streets and inspire belief that Mubarak's security forces could be overcome.
Even on Friday, when the Brotherhood finally threw its weight behind efforts to bring down the government – a stance its leadership initially held back from – Islamist slogans were noticeable by their absence, and the formal contribution of the movement remained limited.....
"All of Egypt is changing, and of course the Brotherhood is part of that," said Assas. "The youth is leading the way, and leaders are heeding our call."
[As that old cliche goes: When the people lead, the leaders will follow!]