Maajid Nawaz, the founder and executive director of London think tank
Quilliam, spent four years in prison in Egypt for his membership
of the radial group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which he later renounced. During
his time in prison he met and befriended a number of prominent
imprisoned Islamists and secular, pro-democracy activists. Metro spoke
with Nawaz in London about weekend events in Egypt.

Hosni Mubarak has been in power for 30 years. How are the protests
happening now?

The revolt in Tunisia provided some impetus, but
discontent has been growing for a long time. The first organized
protest happened while I was in prison. People are very frustrated with
this man.

How involved is the Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim Brotherhood
have been conspicuous by their absence. That’s a good move on their part. Mubarak has stayed in power by saying to people in Egypt and
abroad “It’s either me or extremism.” The West has believed that
Islamic extremists are the only opposition to autocratic rulers. Now
the world is seeing that there’s a real democratic alternative in Egypt.

Former IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) head Mohamad
ElBaradei, who has previously announced that he was running for president, has asked Mubarak to quit. How powerful is he in Egypt?
doesn’t have a movement background, so he doesn’t have a network of
people working on his behalf. Ayman Nour, who ran against Mubarak in
the 2005 election, has more popular support. ElBaradei is essentially a

Will protesters be satisfied with anything less than Mubarak’s

No. Mubarak is on his way out. But Omar Suleiman, his
new vice-president, is a responsible man. When Mubarak resigns,
Suleiman can continue as a caretaker president until elections are
held. Given the current situation, it’s in Suleiman’s interest to work
with the Egyptian people.