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Muslim Brotherhood Member Denies Group Supports Terrorism

Protesters hold up an effigy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a a mock funeral at Tahrir Square in Cairo, February 7, 2011

A prominent member of Egypt’s officially-banned Muslim Brotherhood has denied speculation the growing influence of his group, due to the ongoing crisis, will create a future haven for terrorists who could launch attacks on Israel and some Western countries.

Mohammed ElBeltagy, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Council, told VOA his organization will honor all of Egypt’s peace treaties, including that of Israel.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization; it has no dealings with the terrorists; (it) has no history of violence of a sort and we are not calling for a monopoly in the government. We are not running for (the) presidency. All we are calling for is participation in the parliament,” ElBeltagy said. “The ultimate goal for the Muslim Brotherhood is that Egypt becomes a civil country that bases its values on freedom, liberty, equality, social justice and that all of these will lead to prosperity for all Egyptians.”

This came after the Egyptian government decided to raise the salaries of government employees by 15 percent, the latest action in government attempts to quell anger from protesters calling for the ouster of beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak.

But, ElBeltagy said the increase, in his words, "is meant to sidestep the demands of the protesters."

“These are maneuvers to get around what is going on here because the economic rights are not the only rights that the people are asking for. This is not a revolution of hungry people; this is a revolution for freedom, democracy and civil liberties,” said ElBeltagy.

“These are promises that we are not sure that government can fulfill because they haven’t fulfilled previous promises until now. What we are asking for is not just economic prosperity, but civil rights, equality, freedom, justice and freedom of speech and freedom of election. So, it’s not just all about economics.”

ElBeltagy also said his group will not break the country’s peace treaties with other nations.

“The Muslim Brotherhood will honor all the peace treaties that Egypt has signed and we will not change anything. I do emphasize again that the Muslim Brotherhood will honor and respect all those treaties that were signed with any country in the world,” ElBeltagy said.

Meanwhile, thousands of Egyptian opposition activists occupied Cairo's Tahrir square for a 14th day Monday. Some protesters have planted tents in the square vowing to remain until Mr. Mubarak quits the post he has held for almost 30 years.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Egypt is "making progress" on the negotiating path between the government and opposition leaders.

Mr. Obama made the statement in Washington Monday, a day after Egypt's vice president met with a range of opposition groups in a bid to defuse two weeks of anti-government demonstrations.