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Some liberals fear the Brotherhood and Salafis could join forces in parliament to push through a heavily Islamic agenda. But there is also considerable distrust between the two groups. Brotherhood leaders say they do not want to lead alone and want a broad participation.

Mahmoud Ezzat, a prominent Brotherhood figure, commented on the Salafi-liberal meetings, saying, “Everybody is free to do what they want.”

He dismissed the possibility of a Brotherhood-Salafi alliance with unusually harsh comments on the Salafis. He described them as a movement with a wide spectrum that includes “remnants of the former regime and horrible personalities along with the moderate Islamists.”

“Some of those who ran under the Salafi parties, when you look at their CV, they have nothing to do with Salafis and now they are lawmakers,” he said. “There are sane people … but there are the fanatics.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been involved in politics since its foundation years in 1928, and even though it was banned under Mubarak’s regime its candidates ran as independents in parliamentary elections. The Salafis’ first political experience came only after Mubarak’s fall when the movement formed at least four parties, chief among them Al-Nour. Early in the election campaign, the two tried to form an alliance to run on the same candidate lists, but the Salafis broke away, complaining that the Brotherhood was trying to dominate the partnership.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis share an ideological background that views Islam as not only a faith but school of governance. But their priorities differ, and the Brotherhood is seen as more pragmatic.

At the same time, the Salafis deeply oppose secular parties. Some Salafis used mosques to rally voters, some of them branding rivals as “infidels”, and warning voters not to back the Egyptian Bloc, an election coalition led by the Free Egyptians Party, because it was backed by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Sultan said it is too early for the talks to turn to a political alliance.

“I call this coordination, not alliance yet, since nobody signed anything yet,” he said, and added, “It is not about getting how to divide the cake of parliament among us but we hope to revive the national unity that was in Tahrir Square during the revolution.”