* Book by ex-Brotherhood man becomes best seller
* Mursi, other leaders, depicted as radicals, autocrats
* Book points to media war raging in Egypt
By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Perry
CAIRO, March 5 An Egyptian lawyer whose
dissenting voice got him thrown out of the Muslim Brotherhood
examines what he calls the group's hidden radicalism in a book
that has become a best-seller in Cairo.
Tharwat al-Khirbawy's "Secret of the Temple" has been
dismissed by Brotherhood leaders as part of a smear campaign.
But its success points to a deep mistrust harboured by some
Egyptians towards a once-outlawed movement that has moved to the
heart of power since Hosni Mubarak was toppled and its candidate
secured the presidency.
In its 12th print run since November, the book is being sold
in upmarket shops and on street corners, pointing to a thirst
for information about a group whose inner workings remain a
mystery months after President Mohamed Mursi came to power.
Expelled from the group a decade ago, Khirbawy says he aims
to expose dictatorship and extremism inside the Brotherhood. In
the process, he has joined a media war being waged to shape
views in Egypt's deeply polarised political landscape.
Asked to comment on the book, one senior Muslim Brotherhood
leader dismissed its content as "fallacies". Another said that
to comment on such a book would be a waste of time.
"I want to make all people know the reality about the
Brotherhood," Khirbawy said in an interview with Reuters.
Khirbawy sees the way he was kicked out of the Brotherhood
as an illustration of the group's authoritarian streak.
He was disciplined in 2001 at a "Brotherhood court" for
publishing three articles that criticised the group for not
engaging with other opposition parties - a criticism still
levelled at the Brotherhood today. "The Brotherhood does not
know the virtue of differences of opinion," he said.
Demonised for decades by Egypt's military-backed autocracy,
the Brotherhood sees such attacks as propaganda concocted by
opponents who have struggled to get organised and carve out
their place in the new order.
But Khirbawy's arguments resonate among those Egyptians who
believe the Brotherhood aims to subvert new freedoms for their
own ends to set up a new Islamist autocracy - a view hardened
late last year when Mursi unilaterally expanded his powers.
MURSI DEFENDS QUTB
Khirbawy has been extensively interviewed by independent
Egyptian media that are broadly critical of the Brotherhood.
In his book, he explores the ideology of Mursi and the small
group of leaders at the top of the movement, examining their
devotion to Sayyid Qutb, a radical ideologue executed in 1966
for plotting to kill president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Qutb, a Brotherhood leader, formulated some of the most
radical ideas in political Islam. These included the idea that
modern-day Muslim societies were living in a pre-Islamic state
of ignorance. His most radical work, written while he was in
prison, advocated violence to bring about change.
Mursi is on the record as defending Qutb as a thinker "who
liberates the mind and touches the heart". In a 2009 talk show
appearance posted on YouTube last year, Mursi said Qutb "finds
the real vision of Islam that we are looking for".
Among Brotherhood watchers, it is no secret that the
Brotherhood's current leadership were heavily influenced by
Qutb, who also wrote more broadly on Islam.
But "trying to give the impression that Mursi is a Qutbist
is an exaggeration" said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Islamist
movements. "Yes they are influenced by him in terms of the
purity of ideas, but not in terms of believing in violence or
judging people as non-believers," he said.
Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref said the movement, like all
groups, had rules that must be respected, adding that it was not
the first time a member had left over the years and spoken out.
"The difference this time is the media," he said.
A well-oiled campaign machine and grass-roots support base
helped the Brotherhood sweep the first post-Mubarak
parliamentary vote at the end of 2011, but the assembly was
disbanded in June when Egypt's highest court declared the
election rules unconstitutional.
Suspicion that the Brotherhood plans to dominate Egypt means
the group may find it harder to win votes as fresh parliamentary
"They don't have people who can explain themselves in a good
way, particularly those who talk to the Egyptian public," said
Anani. "There is a huge gap of mistrust."
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)