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Egypt's first Islamist president takes oath of office

Egyptian president-elect Mohamed Morsi addressed a throng of adoring supporters in Tahrir Square today. He is from the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest Islamist organization in the world. So what does that mean, exactly?

By Dan Murphy / June 29, 2012

Egypt's President-elect Mohamed Morsi (R) shakes hand with Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb before Friday prayers at al-Azhar mosque, in the old quarter of Cairo June 29.

Egyptian Presidency/REUTERS

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Simply utter the phrase "Muslim Brotherhood" and you're guaranteed to stir dark animal passions among conservative politicians and commentators -- or at least public approximations of dark animal passions. The election of the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's president has kicked those passions into overdrive.

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Staff writer

Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.

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For many, the Egyptian political movement has joined a long line of American boogeyman with a secret plot to rule the world, from the Masons to the Catholics to the United Nations. In Egypt, there are similar night terrors. Tawfiq Okasha, a conspiratorial TV show host known as the Egyptian Glen Beck, likes to rail against the Masonic/American/Muslim Brotherhood plot to destroy Egypt.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh earlier this week went on a rant implying that the Brothers have already managed to take over parts of President Barack Obama's White House after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement on Morsi's election. Morsi, read the oath of office in a packed Tahrir today, looking and sounding the part of the leader of the Arab world's largest country. This weekend, he was confirmed the winner of the first free presidential election in Egyptian history.

"We expect president-elect Morsi, as he forms a government, to demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity that is manifest by representatives of the women of Egypt, of the Coptic Christian community, of the secular non-religious community and, of course, young people," Ms. Clinton said. "We hope that full democracy is understood to be more than one election.”

That's a pretty tepid statement, bowing to the reality of an election and making a general appeal for the protection of minority and women's rights. And what was Clinton supposed to do? Scream "we're all going to die" and demand the Egyptian military cancel elections and declare itself a junta-for-life?

But Mr. Limbaugh saw evidence of "the plot" behind her comments, launching a diatribe that claimed that the mother of an aide to Clinton is friendly with Morsi's wife and that therefore the Brothers are being propelled to power by the Obama White House. "That's why Hillary is out celebrating the brotherhood. That's why Hillary is joining Obama in telling the military to give it up for the Brotherhood guy," said Limbaugh.

IN PICTURES: Egypt in turmoil

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