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New leader Morsy's ties to Muslim group trouble some Egyptians

| Monday, June 25, 2012, 9:08 p.m.

CAIRO — As Egypt's freshly elected president, Mohamed Morsy, arrived on Monday at the presidential palace that for 31 years was occupied by Hosni Mubarak and cordoned off by his guards, some Egyptians were openly worried about how closely the new head of state would adhere to the Islamist views espoused by his movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

A day after Morsy fulfilled a campaign promise and resigned from the Brotherhood and its political arm, saying he wants to represent all Egyptians, critics were skeptical of the move, wondering whether he would still serve as the front man for the 83-year-old organization's hard-line religious teachings.

“He has resigned on paper but did not and will never resign ideologically,” said Hanan Fikry, a Coptic Christian activist and author. “It takes people decades of ideological revisions to cut loose from entities they once swore allegiance to.”

Morsy began assembling his team of advisers and will confront serious challenges once he's sworn in on July 1: chiefly a potential confrontation with the powerful generals who are ruling the country on an interim basis and hold most of the nation's political power, including supervising the process of drafting a new constitution. He has to win over Egyptians who question his nationalist credentials, despite remarks he made on Sunday night calling for national unity after a divisive presidential race.

Fikry believes that Morsy “is a Brotherhood candidate who obeyed the Islamist movement's will” by stepping in to the presidential campaign after Khairat el Shater, the Brotherhood's strategist, financier and first choice for president, was disqualified from the race because of a political ban dating from the Mubarak era.

In 1977, Morsy, like all who join the Brotherhood, swore an oath of loyalty to the movement, which was banned at the time, and its chairman, or supreme guide. Fikry said she was concerned that Morsy's win, officially announced on Sunday, represents a threat to Egypt's identity as a secular state.

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