Tide turns in favour of Egypt's Brotherhood in revolt
By Samia Nakhoul
CAIRO (Reuters) - The first time Essam el-Erian, went to jail, he was 27. Last Sunday, he left prison for the eighth time at the age of 57.
The medical doctor's crime for each incarceration was belonging to the Muslim Botherhood, Egypt's most influential and best-organised Islamist opposition movement and long feared by President Hosni Mubarak, Israel and the United States.
Egypt's courts have repeatedly rebuffed the Brotherhood's requests for recognition as a party on the grounds that the constitution bans parties based on religion.
Now the world could not look more different to the past three decades when Brotherhood members were repressed, arrested, tried in military courts and shunned by the Egyptian government.
After the last tumultuous days of popular revolt against Mubarak, it is now the government that is seeking out the Muslim Brotherhood to discuss Egypt' future.
Mubarak's Vice President Omar Suleiman met opposition groups on Sunday in talks joined for the first time by the Brotherhood.
The once outlawed group is finally well-placed to play a prominent role as Mubarak's government struggles to survive after 30 years in power.
I've been in and out since 1981," said Erian, a leading figure in the Brotherhood. "I have seen all forms of torture. I have been suspended by ropes, beaten, electrocuted and left outside in the cold for hours. I must say the treatment improved along the years and because of my age." Continued...