Abu Dhabi: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which has been officially outlawed as a political organisation, is a political and not a religious movement, said an expert in Islamic movements.
"The Muslim Brotherhood movement's belief in the inseparability of politics and religion proves that its true goal is to establish a theocracy, and that its declared acceptance of political pluralism and the alternation of power is insincere," Abdul Rahim Ali, founder and director of the Arab Centre for Islamic Movements Studies, told the majlis of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
He said since the Muslim Brotherhood claims to represent Islam, it has always viewed its political rivals as Islam's rivals.
"They [the Brotherhood members] would never allow another free election if they won power, as an electoral defeat would mean taking government away from Islam and handing it to non-Islamic forces."
Western governments, including the US, consider the Brotherhood and other "moderate Islamist" groups as potential partners in helping to advance democracy in their countries, and perhaps also in eradicating terrorism.
The Brotherhood's documents, however, define it as a community of Muslims dedicated to the rule of Allah's law who seek to revive Islam and to fulfil two fundamental goals: liberating "the Islamic homeland" from any foreign rule; and establishing in that free homeland a free Islamic state that will follow Islam's rules, implement its social order, and propagate its principles.
Ali criticised the Muslim Brotherhood movement as a failure particularly in addressing the issue of minorities and women.
"The Muslim Brotherhood's "outdated tenets and goals with regards to Copts [the Christian community in Egypt] and women are a disaster. It is impossible they could live together with Copts," he said.
Tension between the Muslim and Coptic communities in Egypt had been high ever since the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. When US President George W. Bush used the word 'crusade', it implicated the Copts, in the eyes of some Muslims, in a wider Christian assault on Muslims.
Ali said there was a close relationship between Ayman Al Zawahiri, the second man in Al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood.