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He cited a need to scrub misperceptions from the academic curricula in the Muslim world and the West, where he said misinformation had created a false perception of Muslims and Islam. He cited Egypt as an example where authorities had “engaged aggressively to correct our curriculum” and removed comments offensive to Jews, women and non-Muslims.
On the other hand, rights groups say Egypt under Mr. Mubarak has provided a less than stellar example of a free democracy.
Mr. Mubarak, who assumed office in 1981, is weighing whether to run for another term. Many expect his son, Gamal, to succeed Mr. Mubarak in 2011.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has long been the model for Islamic political movements but, according to Sheik Gomaa, support for political Islam does not exceed 20 percent in the Muslim world.
The cleric said most Egyptians reject the concept of religious parties.
In 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood, an officially banned political movement that seeks to impose Islamic law in Egypt, won about 20 percent of the seats in the Egyptian parliament.
Its candidates were at a disadvantage because government security forces prevented people from voting in neighborhoods where the Brotherhood is popular.
Many analysts think the Brotherhood would win control of the Egyptian parliament in an open election, in part because of government corruption and dissatisfaction with Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP).
Because Egypt prohibits religiously based political parties, Brotherhood candidates run as independents.
Many Egyptians fear the Brotherhood would bring fewer freedoms for women and increased persecution for Egypt’s Christian minority if it ever took power. Others think the group would rein in its Islamic political agenda if it were to rule.
Sheik Gomaa admitted that while a majority of Egyptians vote for Mr. Mubarak’s NDP, not every Egyptian is against the Brotherhood.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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