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Cablegate: Muslim Brotherhood Parliamentarians Attend

VZCZCXRO0843
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #2005 1821516
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011516Z JUL 07 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5890
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 002005

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (CLASSIFICATION DOWNGRADE TO SBU)

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR WATERS AND DAVIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KDEM EG
SUBJECT: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD PARLIAMENTARIANS ATTEND
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE EVENT

REF: CAIRO 1641

1. (U) According to Egyptian press reports, five Muslim
Brotherhood (MB) parliamentarians, in an unusual and notable
development, participated in a recent event at the
Presidential Palace. President Mubarak reportedly hosted a
June 23 breakfast to celebrate the signing of new
education-related legislation (details of which to be
reported septel), at which a large number of parliamentarians
were in attendance, including MB MP's Mahmoud Megahed, Hamdi
Hassan, Gamal Hanafi, Sobhi Saleh, and Mohamed al Gazzar.
First Lady Suzanne Mubarak and presidential son Gamal Mubarak
reportedly were also present.

2. (U) Following initial press reports about the event, an
apparently defensive MB leadership was quoted as follows in
the independent daily Al Dustour (reported in the June 25
edition): "The invitation was a routine one, and the MB had
to respond to it regardless of the conflicts between the
group and the regime" (Deputy Supreme Guide Mohamed Habib),
"the visit was a normal thing ... the MB considers Mubarak
the president of all Egyptians, and we do not contest his
legitimacy (activist senior MB member Essam El Erian), and
"the visit was routine ... the MB MP's went to the palace and
left like all the other MP's who attended. Also, three MB
MP's previously attended a similar meeting at the
Presidential Palace" (leading MB member Gamal Heshmat). On
June 26, Rose el Youssef (an "independent" daily widely
believed to be funded by branches of the Egyptian security
services, and NDP Secretary for Organization Ahmed Ezz),
published an op-ed by board chairman Karam Gabr, noting that,
"The visit (of the MB MP's to the Presidential Palace) stands
as proof that the Egyptian state does not hate the MB solely
because it is the MB. If the MB were to take a specific
position on whether it is a political group or a 'Da'wa'
(proselytizing) group, it could also enjoy the fruits of
political reform like the rest of Egyptians."

3. (SBU) Comment: This curious incident is illustrative of the
paradoxical status of the MB in Egypt - a "banned
organization" whose parliamentary representatives can attend
an event hosted by the president. The apparent presidential
invitation to MB MP's stands in stark contrast to GOE umbrage
that recent meetings held by visiting CODEL's with Egyptian
parliamentarians have included the head of the MB's
parliamentary bloc (reftel).
RICCIARDONE

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