A coalition of Islamists said on Saturday it was ready to seek dialogue
to end Egypt's bloody political crisis, on condition that the
army-backed government halt a security crackdown.
offer was the first of its kind by the group since the violent dispersal
of pro-Islamist sit-ins this summer, and it notably did not call for
the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim
"We want a democratic solution, and it does not necessarily mean we have to be
in power," Imam Youssef, a leader of the Asala party, which is part of the
Islamist coalition, told AFP.
Asked by AFP if the coalition would insist on
Morsi's return to power, he said: "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves."
Islamists proposed conditions to enter the negotiations, including the release of
Islamist prisoners, the reopening of Islamist broadcasters shut down after
Morsi's overthrow, and the "return to the barracks" of the military, which has
handed power to an interim civilian government, according to the
The most populous Arab state was thrown into turmoil after the army overthrew Morsi on July 3.
was not immediately clear if the move would be backed by top leaders of
the Brotherhood, which is part of the alliance, the National Coalition
to Support Legitimacy, or how the military-backed government would
Since hundreds were killed by security forces in the
break-up of Islamist protest vigils in August, there has been no sign
that either side is willing to open a dialogue to ease the turmoil,
which has ravaged investment and tourism.
could signal a willingness by the Brotherhood to pull their supporters
off the streets, limiting the chance for confrontation, ahead of another
round of mass protests called for this week.
The Coalition said
at a press conference that dialogue could occur only if detainees were
released and Islamist protesters were allowed to demonstrate peacefully.
also made the dialogue conditional on an end to "hate campaigns" by the
media. It said that satellite channels that broadcast Islamist views
must be allowed back on air.
State and private media have been in
lockstep with the military-backed authorities since Morsi's overthrow,
helping to whip up a public frenzy against the Brotherhood and its
Ali Bishr, a Brotherhood leader who represented the group in meetings
with Western diplomats as they attempted to negotiate an end to the
sit-ins before they were broken up, said the dialogue offer was "limited
to two weeks".
Bishr, one of the few Brotherhood leaders not in
jail, is seen as someone who could possibly negotiate with the
The government has unleashed a
fierce crackdown against the Brotherhood since Morsi's overthrow,
arresting thousands of its members, including Morsi and most of its top
It has accused the Brotherhood of carrying out terrorist
acts and said it would only be welcome in politics again if it
The group has been banned, and a panel of
judges on Saturday recommended that its political wing, the Freedom and
Justice Party, be dissolved.
The Brotherhood, for decades a
non-violent underground movement, denies espousing the use of force and
says the army staged a coup and undermined democratic gains made since a
popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
remains to be seen whether either the government or the top Brotherhood
leaders, who have rejected dialogue outright and insist that Morsi
remains the legitimate president, might be ready to compromise.
could be a turning point in the crisis if it was taken seriously by the
government," said Khail al-Anani, senior fellow at the Middle East
Institute in Washington.
"This is the first time for the
coalition to implicitly remove the requirement of reinstating Morsi," he
said. "It can give a small window for negotiation."
initiative gains traction, it might result in the Brotherhood suspending
street protests and limiting the scope for confrontation. A state of
emergency and nightly curfew, declared after Morsi's overthrow, were
ended on Thursday.
Western allies want the government to create
an inclusive political process to bring stability to Egypt, which has a
peace treaty with Israel and controls the strategic Suez Canal.
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