Egypt’s influential Muslim Brotherhood condemned the “assassination” of Osama bin Laden, claiming anyone accused of a crime should be put on trial. However, the conservative group - the inspiration for mainstream political Islamists across the Arab world - said bin Laden did not represent Islam.

The group’s reaction was seen in Cairo as a test of its stance before it contests parliamentary elections in September. The Brotherhood is sure to emerge as a political force after being held at bay by the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leading contender to replace bin Laden, was once aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood. His brother Mohammed was arrested under Mubarak and re-arrested shortly after his release by Egypt’s military rulers.

The group said in a statement: “The Muslim Brotherhood calls for the world in general and the western world’s people and governments in particular to stop linking Islam with terrorism and to correct the erroneous image deliberately promoted for a number of years.

“The Muslim Brotherhood calls for the United States to cease its intelligence operations against and to desist from interfering in the internal affairs of any Arab or Muslim country.” Reaction to the likely succession of Zawahiri was muted in the Maadi suburb of Cairo where bin Laden lived until the mid-1990s. “He was here and he left,” said one resident. “This place is wealthy and secular now. Look around.”

Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2011

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