When Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood members make mistakes, the media highlights them to frighten people, said Mohamed al-Beltagui, a Brotherhood leader, at a conference in Shubra al-Kheima on Friday.
Beltagui also said the group is being dragged into arguments about a civil versus a religious state, and that he does not approve of calls by Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, a prominent journalist, to give the title "president" to the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
He added that the Brotherhood has pledged not to run in the presidential election even though they are capable of competing.
He urged Islamists to exercise caution when giving statements, "in order to not give anybody a chance to use these statements against them."
He criticized anti-Brotherhood slogans chanted on the second Friday of Anger last week, saying the Brotherhood is not an enemy of the nation. He talked about an incident in which a protester allegedly grabbed the microphone in Tahrir Square and tried to agitate against the army and the SCAF. He said some people are attempting to drive a wedge between the army and the people and that is why the Brotherhood did not participate in the protest.
Salafi preacher Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, meanwhile, said he would not join the Fadila Party – a Salafi political party – or any other, because a preacher should steer clear of partisan activity. But he said he would support any party with an Islamic frame of reference.
He called on Salafis to coordinate efforts with the Brotherhood for the parliamentary elections rather than compete against them, because the latter is better qualified for political work. "Besides, standing up against the Brotherhood will splinter votes," he added.
Maqsoud, however, thought Salafis should compete for their own seats. "The Brotherhood said they would run for one third of parliamentary seats, why shouldn't Salafis run for the rest?" he told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
For Islamists to reach power, Maqsoud said, "We pray for Allah to help them, and grant them victory," but pointed out that their chance of winning the presidency is not great, as people would be disinclined to elect a sheikh. He added that the new president must respect Islamists and sharia (Islamic law).
Concerning the implementation of hudud punishments, he suggested that even if Salafi’s gained power, they would not seek to apply sharia in full. "People will not return to religion overnight. We want to apply the Islamic religion," he said.
He attributed the success of Friday's protest – despite the absence of the Brotherhood and Salafis – to the fact that demonstrators removed some demands rejected by most Egyptians, such as drafting a new constitution and postponing the parliamentary elections.
He added that if demands for prosecuting former officials was announced from the beginning, the Brotherhood would have supported them, but they wanted to mobilize people to demand forming a civil presidential council, and postponing the elections, which are demands rejected by the Brotherhood.
He said, "We are dealing with non-Muslims from a religious perspective, not from a national unity and social peace perspective," pointing out that Christians and Jews are safe among Muslims who understand the essence of Islam.
Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Salam, another Salafi leader, warned of a conspiracy to drive a wedge between the armed forces and people, mentioning that an army commander called him the day before the Friday protest to say, "There is a big conspiracy, but Islamists proved to be great honest men, and we depend on a broad base of them to support the army."
Mohamed Gamal Heshmat, a member of Brotherhood's Shura Council, called on the Interior Ministry to reconsider its selection of security leaders, describing recent changes as deceptive, and said one of every three people dismissed from the ministry had committed violations and must be referred to Illicit Gains Authority, rather than being allowed to sit at home.
Though it has been confirmed that the conference is not part of an electoral campaign, a leaflet bearing "Islam is the solution," the Brotherhood's slogan, was distributed.
Translated from the Arabic Edition