“I don’t know what [senior Brotherhood leader Esam el-] Erian is thinking, I really don’t,” said a secular protest leader, who has spent years trying to bring the Brotherhood into a broader reform camp. “We all know who Suleiman is and what he’s capable of. This is splitting the Brotherhood and could leave all of us isolated and in danger.”
The Brothers, ever-cautious and aware that they bear the brunt of regime repression when they join protests, were slow to participate in the demonstrations that broke out on Jan. 25 and have struggled to craft a united front ever since.
A sign of the split came soon after Mr. Erian, who has done at least eight stints in jail, and his two colleagues spoke. He declared the current parliament “illegitimate," but said that the Brotherhood will give negotiations a chance to work, particularly regarding Suleiman’s promise of constitutional reform.
“We wanted the president to step down, but for now we accept this arrangement,” said Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council. “It’s safer that the president stays until he makes these amendments to speed things up because of the constitutional powers he holds.”
An influential Brotherhood member of the reform camp then took to Al Jazeera and appeared to contradict the official line.
“The Muslim Brotherhood went with a key condition that cannot be abandoned ... [Mubarak] needs to step down in order to usher in a democratic phase," Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Aboul Futuh said on Al Jazeera. “If they were serious, the parliament would have been dissolved [and there would have been] a presidential decree ending the emergency law.”