Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Point to point

Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahmoud Hussein speaks with Ahmed Eleiba about the political performance of the group, now and in the future

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Al-Ahram Weekly

What is your assessment of two important periods in Egypt’s modern history: one, the transitional period in which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was in power and, two, the past six months in which Egypt has had a civilian president?

We all saw what happened in the first period, and we all have our comments. Of course SCAF was able to protect the revolution and safeguard the lives of the demonstrators. It managed to somehow pressure Hosni Mubarak and his regime into leaving. It organised fair and free parliamentary elections for the first time in decades. And it was able to end the transitional period and transfer power to a civilian president. There have been some violations in this period, perhaps because of the military’s mindset, its composition, and its lack of political experience but also because of the complex circumstances prevailing in this period. I don’t want to speak about the mistakes, for these were unfortunate. The achievements are more significant.

After Mohamed Morsi took power we sensed that there were attempts to undermine [presidential] authority and push it aside and also to banish the People’s Assembly, an institution that was elected by 33 million Egyptians. There were attempts to disband the Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly. We were about to find ourselves in a constitutional vacuum, with Morsi left alone and set to fail. Many people joined forces, including businessmen who got rich under the old regime and who got involved in politics. Some tried to engage in real opposition in a peaceful way but others committed violations. In this period bloody events happened and martyrs fell, many of them from the MB. Some people who pretend to speak on behalf of the Egyptian people instigated street action. But I believe that after the referendum on the constitution everyone recognises their real size and acts accordingly. It is too early to judge President Morsi. Only six months have passed and there have been problems in the government. He received a shaky country from the old regime. We need another year at least to assess his presidency, during which time a People’s Assembly will be formed, and a Shura Council, and everyone will work together to produce tangible achievements.

 

Do you comment about the way President Morsi is running the country?

We don’t make such comments in public, unless there is no alternative. We give advice and the other side must take the advice. If he doesn’t take it and keeps doing the same thing we will go to the people and say what needs to be done. This is the way we deal with everyone, and it is how we interacted with SCAF. True, we had some remarks concerning tardiness in decision-making. Also, efforts concerning reconciliation were disproportionate to what happened in reality. On some occasions he has relented in the face of pressure from political forces which had failed at the ballot boxes, as was the case with those appointed to the Shura Council. The MB was given the least percentage of appointees to the Shura Council although it won 80 per cent of votes for the council. This is not fair. What is fair is to reward those chosen by the people.

 

What do you think of the opposition’s reaction to the measures taken so far, especially with regard to the referendum?

The opposition made a serious mistake when it resorted to lying and disinformation and when it used undemocratic methods to change things. We have seen street action that wasn’t peaceful, and an attempt to storm Al-Ittihadiya Palace. People were prevented from entering Tahrir Square and violence was committed when MB offices were burned and thugs were sent to Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square. None of this was democratic and yet no [opposition] politicians denounced these actions. Indeed, they were pleased with what happened. Perhaps investigations will show they were implicated in what happened. This whole scene is one that I had hoped never to see. I had hoped to see real and effective opposition coming up with alternatives. We heard a lot of talk about the constitution but we didn’t see any alternatives or proposals.

 

But there are many controversial articles, important ones, nearly 15 of them, in the constitution. Why didn’t you take that into consideration when civil groups pulled out of the Constituent Assembly?

The points of controversy were less than clear. When the vice president sat down with members of the Constituent Assembly the discussion was not specific and no alternatives were put forward, only general remarks. Besides, we don’t believe that the constitution encroaches on the rights of Copts or the judiciary. What was interesting is how the politicians came up with fabricated articles and attributed them to the constitution. Nowhere in the world do you find politicians fabricating provisions and presenting them as if they were part of the constitution.

 

So the MB is satisfied with the constitution?

The constitution doesn’t cover everything it should. But at the end of the day it is human effort, so this is natural. We endorse and support the main body of the constitution which comprises 236 articles, some of which were subject to disputes over phrasing or form. But at the end of the day there is a mechanism in place to amend the constitution. The 100 members (of the Constituent Assembly) did a great job. We believe that in terms of general framework, public policy and freedoms this constitution is excellent. There is a battle that is being fought for fabricated reasons. This battle began with the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, which were not about commemorating [the martyrs], for the protesters set up a field hospital even before the violence started. The battle then shifted to the constitutional declaration. When the declaration was cancelled the battle became about the referendum. This battle is still going on. The impression one gets is that this battle is about something else, something that is left unsaid.

 

How about those who withdrew from the Constituent Assembly?

Those who withdrew had signed the constitutional document. I can understand if people withdraw because they object to the formation of the Constituent Assembly or the document it is writing. But the formation of the assembly hadn’t changed for six months. It was the same formation agreed with SCAF. They discussed the names of the members before agreeing to participate. They made their position clear at a meeting in the Wafd Party’s headquarters. So what was it that changed to trigger such resentment? The Church took part and Al-Azhar took part, all the parties took part alongside the major Islamist parties. Everyone worked hard for five months, day and night. And all of a sudden, the assembly’s formation was said to be biased? Ask them, why is that?

How about differences over content?

They discussed the provisions for five months and they put their signature to them. Signatures by Al-Azhar and the Church were placed on the articles concerning Islam and Christianity. With the possible exception of Amr Moussa, they [the opposition] signed the various articles on freedoms.

 

According to the document representatives of the Church and constitutional experts such as Gaber Nassar didn’t sign the draft. How can it be that the draft was approved and signed five months earlier?

My understanding is that everyone signed.

 

The National Salvation Front rejected the constitution and Hamdeen Sabahi vowed to struggle to bring it down. What is your comment?

This is a punishable offence. How can a politician stand in public and say that he wishes to bring down the constitution? Should society view him as a politician or a thug?

 

This remark is perhaps linked to polling irregularities during the referendum.

The constitution was presented in a referendum monitored by all civil society organisations and aired on various televisions. We didn’t see one person saying that he was forced to vote yes or no. And then they claim it was forged. There is an Elections Committee and it is in charge of receiving such complaints and deciding on them. But to say that you want to bring down a constitution that was approved by the people, this is not a remark that befits a thug, not a politician. No offence.

 

But all of this came as a result of the difficult birth of the referendum. We have seen a split in the judiciary, a siege of the Constitutional Court and a crisis over the prosecutor-general.

This is not true. Not one of the institutions you mentioned said the constitution should be brought down. When Article 76, the worst article in history, was amended, people said they would seek to change the constitution by peaceful means. This was under the old regime. No one in a decent country can say I will bring down the constitution. You can say I will amend it, through parliament, through the president, through calling on the people to embrace change. There is a proper way to go about it.

 

How do you see the National Salvation Front?

If it acts as a strong opposition, this would be good for political life. Strong opposition means coming up with alternatives and discussing them with the people. Doesn’t the opposition wish to become the majority? This can only happen through speaking to the people, so that they may be convinced and offer their support. I don’t see this happening. The opposition adopted non-democratic and non-political means, and I believe that it has lost a lot. If the referendum were to be held today the opposition would get fewer votes. It is losing in the streets because it resorts to lying and disinformation. As for the crisis surrounding the prosecutor-general and other events, these look connected but they are not. Hasn’t the entire nation been calling for his resignation since 25 January? Is not he the one who investigated all those cases and failed to get one conviction? Hasn’t he received many reports accusing people of financial corruption but failed to bring any to justice?

 

But the way of dismissing the prosecutor-general was not normal, and this is being used against you.

We are talking here about a public demand. Hasn’t the entire nation demanded the dismissal of the prosecutor-general? Then the issue of the prosecutor-general is not the point. Those who speak about the independence of the judiciary, [I ask them] why was the new prosecutor-general assaulted and why did he come under pressures to resign? Was this not an insult [to the judiciary]? But we don’t hear any of the judges talking about that. On the contrary, they approve of the district attorneys who act in an illegal and thuggish manner and put pressure on the prosecutor-general to resign. Is this proper conduct on the part of the judiciary? And why hasn’t any one of the National Salvation Front people who call for the independence of the judiciary, and who kept saying that the referendum cannot take place without judicial supervision, say something? A judiciary committee placed the names of the judges on the Internet and confirmed that all balloting stations were being supervised by judges. As for the prosecutor-general’s dossier, this is a judicial dossier that has been hijacked by politics. We are against the judiciary’s involvement in politics.

 

Perhaps the constitutional declaration is what triggered the above?

No. When the Constitutional Court disbanded the People’s Assembly, was this a judicial decision or political? The Constitutional Court is not specialised in executive matters. It passed its ruling (to disband the People’s Assembly) within 45 days, although it has a lot of outstanding cases waiting to be considered. One of these cases dates back to 1995, when we were referred to military courts though we were civilians. To this day the Constitutional Court hasn’t ruled on the matter. The Constitutional Court ordered the People’s Assembly to be disbanded and its ruling appeared in the official gazette in advance. It should have issued a statement to explain this irregularity. When the constitutional declaration was issued the Constitutional Court met on the same day to discuss it. The Judges Club also met and issued an ultimatum to the president. Why is the Judges Club dabbling in politics? The judges are the ones who got the judiciary involved in politics.

 

Many presidential advisors submitted their resignations over the issue. Is this not an indication of the intensity of the crisis and of instability within the presidency, especially considering that some advisors, Seif Abdel-Fattah for instance, are sympathetic to the Islamist current?

I disagree with your interpretation. Presidential advisors were selected to strike a balance and allow different currents to be represented. When you bring these people together, each will speak for the current he represents, hence the resignations. If they were technocrats then your point would make sense. Now it is being said that a lot of advisers resigned, not just one or two. Seif Abdel-Fattah didn’t belong to any political current. I am not necessarily saying that this applies to all those who resigned. Counsellor Mahmoud Makki resigned and said that politics wasn’t his passion.

 

Doesn’t this undermine the president’s popularity?

No, the president’s popularity is much higher [than is assumed]. The referendum wasn’t about the popularity of the president but it was an indication. Despite the negative campaigning the referendum received bigger approval than the president had in the past. This is proof of the immense popularity of the president.

 

What is the nature of the relationship between the presidency and the MB?

We have said repeatedly that the presidency is independent in its decision-making and that it acts in the manner it finds most suitable, either through advisers or the secretariat. Political parties and other groups also act independent of the presidency. The MB makes its decisions independently and has nothing to do with the presidency; the presidency’s decision-making is independent and has nothing to do with the MB. Likewise, the decisions of the [Freedom and Justice] Party have nothing to do with the MB or the presidency. If we want to convey an opinion or advice, or we are asked to do so, we relay our views to the presidency in the normal way. We do not interfere in the decisions of the presidency. Nor does the presidency interfere in our decisions.

 

Have you ever asked the presidency for help, or has the presidency asked you for help, as in nominations, etc.?

No, we don’t ask the presidency for anything. But if the presidency comes up with something or seeks advice on a subject such as political nominations, the matter will be relayed to us and we will discuss it independent of the presidency. If there is advice to be given to the presidency, it remains just that, advice. We do not tell the presidency what to do. Indeed, we cannot tell the presidency what to do. At the end of the day it is up to the presidency to listen to us or not.

 

Has the presidency turned down anything you demanded?

It is hard to know whether it does what we demand or not. We have made demands through our statements. The presidential decision [on these] may be made belatedly. For example, we called for the replacement of the prosecutor-general. Did the presidency listen? I don’t know. It listened in the sense that we were voicing a public demand, though it is something we had been requesting for two years. When it finally happened there was no way of knowing whether the action was in response to our demands or to the demands of other people. There is also the matter of retrials. We called for retrials because we believe that those who killed protesters should be brought to justice. These are general issues, not private or party issues. We have no private or party issues, either as a group or as individuals.

 

Let’s discuss bloody Wednesday and what happened at Al-Ittihadiya Palace. Are you disturbed by the events of that day?

Of course.

 

Was it wrong for members of the Islamic current, especially the MB, to go there at a time when a sit-in was being staged by their opponents?

To assess the decision taken in this respect you have to recall what happened before the decision was taken. Naturally, when you take a decision you examine its consequences afterwards, and judge it as being right or wrong. On Tuesday, when the decision was taken, the information we had was that there was an assault on Al-Ittihadiya, that protesters had gathered there and the Republican Guard and the police were either reluctant, or failing, to protect the palace. The people [protesting at Al-Ittihadiya] wanted to give the impression that they represented the majority of the Egyptian public. We wanted to express our support for legitimacy. Al-Ittihadiya was not the usual venue in which they protest. We were at Al-Ittihadiya before them and they were in Tahrir. Not that this venue is a piece of land that belonged to them or to us. We went there. And there were not a big number of protesters on the other [anti-MB] side. They withdrew when we went there, and no problems happened at this juncture.

 

How do you say there were no problems? What we saw was that the protesters staging the sit-in withdrew because they were pressured and pushed away?

No, they withdrew of their own volition and without any pressure. You saw the tents and not the people. The tents were dismantled by supporters [of the president]. These were not their tents and were of no use to them so they removed them.

 

So you’re saying that this is right?

No, it isn’t right. The tents didn’t belong to them. Since the tents didn’t belong to the [pro-Morsi] they should have left them or ask their owners to come and remove them. It was wrong to dismantle them.

 

Let’s discuss the clashes. Before the clashes took place MB leaders made statements which were threatening in nature.

The clashes didn’t happen because of the protesters. Between 3pm and 6.30pm nothing happened. Those who started the clashes came from behind, with a new group that was not from the [anti-MB] protesters. They were people who wanted to start trouble and had planned it all out. They brought in weapons and moved in from the back. This wasn’t something that was taken into account when the decision was made.

 

Who were these people?

Ask the prosecution. It is the prosecution that set them free. They also had... [doesn’t finish sentence]. And yet they were set free.

 

If the events were as you portray them why did the prosecution set these attackers free?

They were not exonerated. They are still under investigation. But ask the prosecution. The prosecution released them. Evidence exists. People died. The people who came from behind are the ones who killed the demonstrators. Are they thugs? Is this what they were? Or are they something else?

 

But what about the video evidence? What about the detention and torture of anti-Morsi protesters caught on film?

I question these videos. If they are proven to be true, then what happened was wrong. But it can be explained. The [MB supporters] arrested some of those who were involved in the killing of pro-Morsi protesters and handed them to the police. Some of them they handed to the Republican Guard but it let them go.

 

You’re saying that the police collaborated with the opposition?

What do you do when the police and the Republican Guard let those [captured by the MB] go? What action do you take when those who are captured are set free? In the videos you see actions that no one should take. The use of violence to extract confessions or inflict punishment is impermissible.

 

What about the violations committed by the MB’s supporters?

Let me tell you this. The first people captured were handed to the police and the Republican Guard but they were set free. So the [pro-Morsi] demonstrators had no option but not hand them in to the police. Some [MB supporters] committed violations. Why were the violations committed? I am against all violations. But did the mistreatment [of MB opponents] take place during the capture? We don’t see any beatings and the videos don’t show signs of beatings. Maybe some were beaten when they tried to escape, or perhaps they were beaten by their own colleagues. Did someone surrender and then was beaten? It’s a case by case situation. At the end of the day, we are against violations by anyone, from any side.

 

How do you view Al-Ittihadiya Palace, surrounded by cement blocks and barriers? When you see the president ruling from behind walls do you feel that this undermines the prestige of the presidency?

You cannot put it this way. The president is not hiding from the people. When you see Tahrir Square closed to pedestrians do you say the demonstrators are hiding from the people? The president may see that he has to protect himself in this manner. When you have demonstrators who want to attack Al-Ittihadiya with Molotov cocktails your only options are to use violence against them or to resort to protective measures. This has no bearing on the president.

 

Not even symbolically? It is, after all, the presidential palace.

The prime minister was prevented from entering the cabinet offices. No one said anything then. The Ministry of Interior has been attacked repeatedly and no one said anything. The Scientific Institute was attacked. The list is long. So why are things different at Al-Ittihadiya Palace? There are some thugs who exploit the presence of demonstrators — or opponents, or revolutionaries — to throw a wrench in the political works and run away. There are also thugs who get paid by members of the former regime. This is all well-known. Do you call their actions a movement by the people? Do you call it discontent by the masses? None of this has any bearing on reality. What we have is an elected president, a legitimate president, a man who came to power through free and fair elections, as the whole world knows. You cannot challenge his authority before his four-year term is over, at which time he may win a second term or lose to someone else. There is a mechanism in the constitution, both before and after the referendum, for holding the president accountable. There are rules for that. This is how the civilised world functions.

 

If this is how things are why did we have a revolution? So that the people step aside and watch in silence, without objecting or demonstrating? Why did we have a revolution against the Mubarak regime?

Mubarak usurped power and wanted to bequeath it. He tailored a constitution for himself. He considered himself above any accountability.

 

There have been chants of “down with the regime” and “down with the rule of the MB supreme guide”. Do you have anything to say about this?

We too can chant “down with the rule of the MB supreme guide”, simply because the MB supreme guide doesn’t rule. Can you imagine a supreme guide who rules and at the same time burns down his own headquarters?

 

Is there any chance of having real dialogue with the opposition?

We believe in dialogue with everyone, with opponents, with dissidents, and even with enemies, with a few exceptions regarding the Israeli occupiers.

 

But such beliefs are not being enacted.

Our doors are wide open. We have never been asked to come to a dialogue and refused, never.

 

When the army asked you to come to a dialogue it was said that you turned down the invitation because it came from the army and not the president.

No, we agreed to go. They [the military] are the ones who hesitated and cancelled [the invitation]. Dr Mahmoud Ezzat and myself went and we waited there. We didn’t object. The invitation was not for dialogue. And the president’s position [on the invitation] had nothing to do with us. We kept getting conflicting messages. We had already decided who was going to attend even though we didn’t receive an official invitation. No one called us. When the whole thing was cancelled we only knew about it from television.

 

What if the opposition views the president as an antagonist?

They are free to think what they want about the president. The MB has nothing to do with this. We have a party and anyone can come and talk to that party. The party can invite anyone it wants. Any other party can call others to a dialogue. When we call for dialogue we don’t exclude anyone. Those who participate are appreciated and those who don’t, it is up to them. Dialogue is not about setting conditions. If you accept dialogue, fine. But don’t make conditions, it’s not right. We have organised several rounds of talks and some [opposition members] attended.

 

How do you see the next parliamentary elections? You are wagering on your ability to win a majority, and the National Salvation Front wagers on the same.

We don’t wager. Let them [the opposition] wager to their heart’s content. We will stand in the elections and we will accept the judgement of the people. It is up to the voters to choose us or choose someone else. God willing, we hope to win a majority.

 

Do you hope for a landslide?

It will be hard for anyone to get 50 per cent. I don’t think anyone will get that much.

 

What about the different schools of thinking within the MB, and the relation between preaching and politics? According to recent studies there are three schools of thought within the MB, that of Hassan Al-Banna, of Sayed Qutb, and of the jihadists. In his book The Secret of the Temple Tharwat Al-Kherbawi speaks of an alliance between the MB and (jihadist leader) Shukri Mustafa.

We do not accept any accusations directed at the MB by outsiders. These are unfair and totally groundless.

 

But (authors) like Hossam Tammam and Tharwat Al-Kherbawi were MB members.

They were. But why did they leave the MB, out of love or rancour?

 

Because of differences, perhaps?

So the right person to assess the MB is the one who differs with it? What were the differences? Did he disagree, as he claims, about ideas? Did he leave because of a certain issue, or because of other reasons? These [accounts by Tammam and Al-Kherbawi] are utter lies. The MB has no militia. It has no military training. It has no secret outfit. It had none of these things under the deposed regime or the one preceding it. The MB’s structure is well known. State Security (SS) knew the names of the heads of the MB’s administrative offices nationwide. It knew the MB organisational chart across the country. It used this knowledge to arrest them. How can you say that there is a secret outfit? The names of the members of the Guidance Bureau are public. We meet every Saturday and Wednesday in front of the media. The MB Consultative Assembly meets in broad daylight.

 

So the Ten-Member Outfit, or tanzim al-asharat, that is said to have changed the course of the MB is an illusion, and reformists were never dismissed from the MB?

We don’t know anything about these things. We don’t have Al-Banna people and Qutb people and reformists, none of that. We are one group. We disagree on some topics and agree on others. In the Guidance Bureau we adhere to the opinion of the majority. The supreme guide and his deputies may have an opinion but if the majority is against it, then the supreme guide and his deputies have to go by the views of the majority. We are unique in that way.

 

Do you see the relation between the MB and the FJP as similar to that between preachers and politicians?

The MB is a group that engages in preaching as well as politics, the economy, social issues, and religious matters. The MB believes that Islam covers all aspects of life. We cannot separate one aspect from another. We do not believe in separation and division. The FJP was created to engage in specialised political work and to compete in elections, that’s all. It engages in this specific form of politics. This doesn’t mean that it is not interested in social work. But according to its bylaws the FJP is focussed on two things [politics and elections] and we do not interfere in its affairs. The FJP takes decisions independently from the MB, though there is ongoing coordination between the MB and the FJP on all crucial matters. If the FJP participates in elections it coordinates with the MB. If it participates in government it coordinates with the MB. If it joins a coalition it coordinates with the MB. But generally speaking the MB makes its decisions independently and the FJP makes its decisions independently.

 

What is the relation between the MB and the army?

We believe that the army has a specific and sacred mission which is to protect the country. We are proud of the army and of the fact that, throughout its long history, it has never turned against the Egyptian people. It was always a servant of the Egyptian people and it always shouldered its responsibilities. It was part of the political process for a while but this was an exception to the rule.

 

The MB and the army have a history. The fact that you were sentenced by military courts, does it make you bitter or vengeful?

No. This wasn’t the army’s fault. We blame the regime which wanted to drive a wedge between the army and us.

 

Some accuse the MB of trying to infiltrate the army, and say the latter needs to be protected from ideological infiltration by any group. How do you react to this? And is it true that you requested a quota [for your members] in military colleges?

Not true. The MB is part of the fabric of this country. When Copts join the army do they do so as Copts or Egyptians? We haven’t requested a quota. To this day, two years after the revolution, our members are still banned from admission to military colleges on grounds of their (political) affiliation.

 

Now that you are in power what is the nature of your relations with the US? Washington has been accused of taking your side even at the expense of the country and of the army.

We have no relations with the US, or not in the way official institutions have with a country. We have made it clear that we cannot have relations with the US except through the Foreign Ministry. But delegations from Congress or US institutions do meet some parliamentarians. Also, the US ambassador met the supreme guide. All of this is permissible and fully publicised. We do not take funding from anyone. We dare any institution, country, society, or group anywhere in the world to claim that they gave the MB a single penny.

 

How about political support?

We dare anyone, with a sense of fairness, to claim that the US and Europe offer support to the Islamists to be in power.

 

The US ambassador called SCAF hours before Morsi was declared president, something that triggered controversy.

The US wants to protect its interests. The US was of the view that if the deposed regime came to power once again through forgery a second revolution would break out. Its intercession was not out of bias to Mohamed Morsi but for the election results to be declared without forgery. SCAF and the Elections Committee had knowledge that Morsi was ahead. In this case America stood by legitimacy to avoid a revolution that may turn the country against it.

 

Under MB rule an agreement was signed with Hamas one clause of which mentions the “halting of hostilities”, a reference to resistance operations. How could you accept this?

I believe this was a historic achievement for the Palestinians and for Egypt. America and Israel had to accept that Egypt play this role. Wordplay aside, Israel agreed to break the blockade and guarantee the life of resistance leaders. Regardless of what words were written on paper, was it not an achievement for Khaled Meshaal to visit Gaza?

 

Are talks going to resume through Egypt?

These are things for the Palestinians to decide.

 

What of scenarios suggesting part of the Sinai be an alternative homeland for the Palestinians?

This is a figment of imagination that is unacceptable to Egyptians and Palestinians. The Palestinians went to Rafah and Arish under Mubarak — in 2006 — and stayed there for days. And they broke down the wall.

 

Isn’t there a Palestinian camp in Sinai now?

It is a camp that belongs to Mohamed Dahlan, and the deposed regime is the one to ask about it.

 

But the camp is still there, under President Mohamed Morsi.

Ask the General Intelligence about it. The Palestinian people refused to stay for one day [in Sinai] and went back [to Gaza] of their own free will, without anyone asking them to do so. The Egyptians do not allow anyone to stay on their land, not even for one day.

 

You have no worries about the situation in Sinai?

Right, no worries.

 

You also have no worries about Camp David. The peace treaty was something you used to raise hell about, demanding its abrogation?

The peace treaty is unfair to Egypt, but I am not worried. The MB rejects Camp David and is entitled to do so. But the presidency has its own views. It may discuss the treaty, amend it, or bring it to the People’s Assembly for review. This is [the presidency’s] business. No need to confuse the MB with the presidency.

 

The Renaissance Project, or mashrou al-nahda, which was the main item in the MB’s presidential campaign, is now being described as vague.

There are unjust accusations. We presented the project in writing. Those who claim that this project is an illusion, or vague, must understand that it cannot be accomplished overnight. This project has nothing to do with the presidency. It cannot be linked to a presidential term. We will lead the Renaissance Project for 20 to 30 years. It is a project that must be discussed widely in society and be amended or altered by experts until it becomes a project for all Egypt and not just for the MB. But the political and social climate is not conducive to such discussions. The presidency is going to bring it to public discussion soon because it has been working on a part of it.

 

My last question is about the akhwanat [monopolisation by the MB] of the state, which is spreading in Egypt like a virus, everywhere.

As you said, it’s like a virus. You don’t see it. You don’t feel it. But it causes a lot of excitement. This is because it is non-existent. We are not a majority in the presidency or in the government or among the [presidential] advisers. So what kind of akhwanat are you talking about? The people are the ones who decide. It is up to them to select us or select others.

 

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