* Brotherhood say U.S. forces harmed Muslim states
* One sheikh says bin Laden made “enemy” more aggressive
* Islamist sees bin Laden becoming symbol of resistance
(Adds comment from other Egyptian Islamists)
By Marwa Awad
CAIRO, May 2 (Reuters) - Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called on Monday for U.S. forces to quit Islamic countries now Osama bin Laden is dead, and one Islamist said al Qaeda should rethink its tactics which had only made the “enemy” more aggressive.
The Brotherhood, which has created a party to contest elections following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, said the revolutions sweeping the Middle East proved democracy was at home in the region and foreign occupation was no longer needed.
“With bin Laden’s death, one of the reasons for which violence has been practised in the world has been removed,” said Essam al-Erian, a senior member of the Brotherhood which renounced violence to achieve change in Egypt decades ago.
Bin Laden, who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan on Monday, ending a worldwide manhunt.
Erian addressed the Brotherhood’s call to U.S. President Barack Obama: “It is time for Obama to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end the occupation of U.S. and Western forces around the world that have for so long harmed Muslim countries.”
“The revolutions taking place across the Middle East are proof that democracy has a home in the Middle East and we do not need foreign occupation any more,” Erian said.
The attacks on New York and Washington were followed by two U.S.-led wars, and U.S. and other Western countries have troops based in Afghanistan. U.S. soldiers are due to leave Iraq at the end of 2011 under a security pact with Baghdad, while Washington also has forces based in the Gulf.
Other Islamist groups in Egypt, whose thinkers have inspired Islamic movements and activists around the world, have also re-emerged since Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11, including those who once bore arms.
Bin Laden’s methods were faulted by a sheikh of al-Gama‘a al-Islamiya, a group of the conservative Salafist school which led an armed rebellion in the 1990s to set up a purist Islamic state in Egypt but which has since renounced such violence.
“He made the enemy more aggressive through his method. He made those who were neutral an enemy and his friends hesitant to support him due to the error in his method,” said Sheikh Assem Abdel-Maged, a member of the advisory council of Gama‘a.
“He was a Muslim and we hope that even if he made mistakes in some matters, we hope that God will forgive his mistakes and we hope that his followers and students will review the plan they are working with, regarding the methods that they use.”
Tarek al-Zumar, another leading member of Gama‘a, said bin Laden’s death could lead to acts of retaliation. However, he said the response could be muted by the Arab revolts against the same autocratic leaders bin Laden had railed against.
“Bin Laden will become a symbol of resistance to occupation ...,” said Zumar, who spent three decades in jail for his role in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and was released after Mubarak, his successor, was deposed.
“The U.S. killing of bin Laden will undoubtedly galvanise reaction and retaliation attempts to resist Western occupation.” But he added: “Peaceful revolts in the Arab and Muslim world will prevent attempts at random violent acts of retaliation.”
Zumar’s brother, Abboud, was a founding member of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, the group behind Sadat’s assassination and led by Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda’s second in command who is expected to succeed bin Laden.
Some individual Salafists said bin Laden’s killing would add to tensions between the Muslim world and the United States.
“Relations between Arabs and non-Arab countries, particularly the U.S., will worsen. Bin Laden is not a small name for us, and I am certain this is an American conspiracy,” said Maged Abou Abdullah, laying out carpets in a Salafist mosque in central Cairo.
Abdullah Ali, a Salafist taxi driver in his 60s, said: “He died a martyr and the world will witness a backlash now ... Bin Laden defended the dignity of Muslims and now America and the West will answer for their occupation.”
The Brotherhood’s Erian said there could be a violent reaction where al Qaeda has a foothold such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Algeria.
But he added: “It is time for the world to understand that violence and Islam are not related and that relating them has been an intentional mistake by the media.” (Additional reporting by Tom Perry in Ramallah and Sarah Mikhail in Cairo; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by David Stamp)