After decades of dreaming of power, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood finally comes face to face with the question of how to use it, as a new parliament that it dominates opens Monday.

The fundamentalist group has eased off talk of Islamic-style legislation, saying it will focus on fixing Egypt’s ailing economy, and it has even backed off introducing further explicit Islamic references in the new constitution it will have a major hand in writing. But it has other tools to push Egypt toward greater religious conservativism.

The Brotherhood’s caution in its Islamic rhetoric and parliament agenda reflect its worries of a backlash against it at a time when Egypt’s politics are still in major flux. Egyptians are eager to see quick improvements in an economy that has been battered by turmoil and mismanagement since the fall of Hosni Mubarak nearly a year ago.

They also want signs of long-term change in a system where corruption was rife, nearly half the population fell to the edge of poverty or below, young people searched in vain for jobs and for housing and neighborhoods were left to fall into dilapidation as Mubarak’s regime built clean new suburbs for the few wealthy.

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