ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood: Today’s Qs for O’s WH - 1/31/2011

TAPPER: Has anybody in the administration been in contact with Mohammed ElBaradei?

GIBBS: Obviously the embassy is -- has been in touch with him in the past. I think he is somebody, along with a whole host of people in -- nongovernmental voices in -- whether they're opposition political parties or whether they're heads of business or banks -- that we are regularly in touch with. I believe that they will continue to reach out to people like him and to a whole host of figures, again, nongovernmental and civil society figures, to have a discussion with them about what Egypt must do and what Egypt must look like. TAPPER: Has the embassy been in touch with him in the last week? GIBBS: Not that I'm aware of, at least when I came in here. TAPPER: Wouldn't it make sense for somebody to be in touch with him? GIBBS: Again, I think that outreach is ongoing. TAPPER: The Egyptian government in the past has conveyed to the Obama administration and to the previous administration that it suspects that democracy pushed from the U.S. might result in a -- in something along the lines of what we've seen in Gaza, and that is an Islamist group being elected and gaining power, in this case the Muslim Brotherhood. How much does the Obama administration agree with that assessment? GIBBS: Well, look, Jake, I think that -- as I said here last week, I think that it is -- from what we can see, it's not accurate to say that those protesting are made up of one particular group or one ideology. And I think it is clear that that increase in democratic representation has to include a whole host of important nonsecular actors that give Egypt a strong chance to continue to be the stable and reliable partner that the world sees in the Middle East.

TAPPER: ElBaradei told ABC News this weekend that the Muslim Brotherhood is no more extremist -- is not an extremist organization and is no different from Orthodox Jews in Israel or evangelical Christians in the United States. Does the Obama administration agree with that? GIBBS: Well, let me -- without getting into a discussion about them, I think there are certain standards that we believe everybody should adhere to as being part of this process; one that is, to participate in this ongoing democratic process, one has to take part in it but not use it as a way of simply becoming -- simply becoming or taking over that process simply to put themselves in power. We believe that any group should strongly weigh in on the side of nonviolence and adherence to the law.

-- Jake Tapper

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