When the initial draft of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Party program which was recently offered to more than fifty intellectuals and politicians in Egypt, there has been so much talk around the vision presented by the moderate group, triggering many debates in the Egyptian street. To make the picture cleared, Ikhwanweb holds an interview Dr. Mohamed Morsi, a member of the MB Executive Office to show the group’s ideas and views during the coming period.
Ikhwanweb: How does the Muslim Brotherhood see the concept of a state? What kind of state are you seeking?
Mohamed Morsi: The state according to the Muslim Brotherhood is a civil state that should necessarily be a consultative, legal and constitutional that achieves freedom, justice and equality. Definitely we are not speaking about a utopia. We don’t speak about a state on a desert island. We speak according to the Islamic method with its constants and general principles and how people’s conditions can be improved according to it. Islam does not believe in a divine justice. No Muslim ruler has ever ruled according to this divine justice. The Islamic method which we follow doesn’t have any thing pointing to something like rule should be by a divine justice. Therefore we seek a state which is necessarily civil, not ruled by a junta. We seek a state which is based on people’s will and choice.
Ikhwanweb: You declared that you will not submit a request for forming a party to the Parties Affairs Committee. Why have you written a program of the party you won’t submit for foundation?. Is your declaration of a party is only an attempt to end the crisis caused by the MB students known in the media as " the military parade of Al-Azhar students"?
Mohamed Morsi: Offering the program has come in its natural context. It emerged as a result of the political revival that started in 2005. The Muslim Brotherhood is a section of the society and it is taking the same moves taken by the society. This program was a product although it wasn’t the first carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood that held pro-reform demonstrations. There was also the initiative of reform declared by the Muslim Brotherhood like other movements that presented initiatives for reform like Tagammu’ Party and other Egyptian parties. Then we fielded candidates in 2005 parliamentary elections. Due to our resonant and natural wins and the MPs affiliated to the Brotherhood in the People’s Assembly, the Egyptian elites started to ask about our own program. We offered the initial draft and we are currently working to complete the final form of this program.
This program has no relation with what happened in Al-Azhar University . As for reasons for establishing this party without presenting it to the Parties Affairs Committee, we want to establish a party to exercise politics approved by current societies in running their affairs. Through this party, we show our viewpoint about running people’s affairs in a way which is in line with the current Egyptian constitution. It is people who have the full freedom to accept or reject us, not the Egyptian government that forms the parties’ affairs committee.
Ikhwanweb: Do you have any objection to the foundation of, for example, Christian religious parties?
Mohamed Morsi: We have no objection to the establishment of any religious parties. We don’t mind that a Christian party is established. However, this doesn’t mean that we accept the establishment of a party that calls for spreading vice. This is because the society constants and social values prescribed by the constitution stipulate what I am saying. If people chose Christians to rule us, we don’t have any objection.
Ikhwanweb: What about the criticisms that faced to the MB’s initial draft of the party program, especially concerning issues related to nominating Copts and women to the presidential post. Doesn’t this contradict with the principle of citizenship which you call fr?. Why don’t you accept a Christian to be president although you are sure that the mainly Muslim Egyptian people will not choose a Christian for a president?.
Mohamed Morsi: The state which we seek can never be presided by a none-Muslim, according to most Muslim scholars topped by topped by sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. The Islamic state which we seek is a state of thought, message a state which is tied to Islam. A state whose top priorities include spreading and protecting the religion of Allah. The president has according to Islam some powers related to religion. Some of these powers can’t be carried out by a non-Muslim president. The president is the first one shouldered with carrying the responsibility of Islam as a belief, creed, sharia, and da’wa. However, we don’t mind that one or both vice-president or even the Prime Minister is a non-Muslim.
Ikhwanweb: Does this mean that the president should be a cleric?.
Mohamed Morsi: No definitely, I am speaking here about his responsibilities, not his characteristics. As for women, clerics approved that women can work as judges and all other posts except for being a president of state.
The country we seek is a country for all Muslims not for the Muslim Brotherhood alone. I speak here about an Islamic country, not a religious one. I am not speaking about an Islamic culture, but I mean an Islamic responsibility.
In the USA , there are conditions for a president, that he is a protestant, that he is born in the US soil, not having only a US nationality although citizens are equal in every thing but they don’t have equal rights in presidency. As for age, most of countries all over the world puts as a main condition that the president should be 40 years old. Why do you accept such conditions and don’t accept these conditions from us.
Ikhwanweb: Don’t you see that the Council of Senior Clerics is the Sunni version of (or equivalent to) the Vilayat-e Faqih in Iran ?. Why do you propose it although you claim seeking a civil state?.
Mohamed Morsi: The Council of Senior Clerics which we proposed in the party program was misunderstood. The paragraph about this point said:" The legislative authority must ask for the view of a body of top religious scholars in the nation provided that this body is elected through a free and direct vote from religious scholars and that this body is fully independent from all executive authorities in all its financial, technical and administrative affairs and that is aided by advisors, consultants experts in all scientific and religious specializations .....this body’s viewpoint should be preponderant among other views ......and so on. And the legislative authority has the final decision. However, this point can be amended or even fully rescinded.
Ikhwanweb: Some see that the Muslim Brotherhood announced the party program rashly? And that a certain group inside the MB Executive office monopolized the MB party program, referring to the conservative movement whose senior leaders include you?.
Mohamed Morsi: First: There is no such classification inside the executive office. The Executive Office is run by the MB Chairman and is run in an institutional way. Any decision taken inside is respected by all members regardless of their personal positions. Shura (consultation) ends any dispute. The group has a shura council which was consulted without any exception. The MB party program was announced after it was seen by all members of the group’s highest advisory body. There was no rashness in announcing the first draft of this program.
Ikhwanweb: Do conflicting statements from MB leaders around the party program mean that there are many conflicting views inside the Muslim Brotherhood?. Why is there such a conflict?
Mohamed Morsi: When the program was announced in such a form, it was actually an initial form not the final form. All members of the MB Executive Office were fully aware of this and they read it and revised it under the title "the initial draft". As for those who issued what seemed to be contradictory statements, they didn’t know the decision of the executive Office and they backpedaled when they were informed that the Executive Office backed such an initial draft. Every one inside the group is convinced of the decision of the Executive Office. All of us are in the stage of completing the process of preparation.
Ikhwanweb: If the ruling National democratic party (NDP) proposed holding an open dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, will you accept it?
Mohamed Morsi: We have previously declared that we are ready to conduct a dialogue with non Egyptians and even non Muslims, why don’t we conduct a dialogue with any section, party or power of the Egyptian society regardless of their views about us. However, the NDP, which is running the current government, is practicing all kinds of injustice against people. Therefore, we will demand it to reform all corruption carried out by its hands before initiating any dialogue. But we, at the same time, meet some NDP leaders in satellite channels, seminars and day to day dialogues in the society and we have no sensitivity towards initiating any dialogue with them out of reaching public interests of the people.
Ikhwanweb: If the regime gave the go-ahead to establishing a Muslim Brotherhood program, will the group shut down activities of its Da’wa (missionary) section and keep only the social and political front?
Mohamed Morsi: We call on people to adopt Islam. Politics is only a part of Islam concerned with running people affairs. If we restricted our activities to only this point, we would actually underestimate Islam, something we fully reject.
Ikhwanweb: What does the Muslim Brotherhood expect regarding the military tribunal trying 40 MB top leaders and business moguls and its effect on the tense relationship between the moderate group and the regime?
Mohamed Morsi: The military tribunal against the MB leaders is till going on although it is unconstitutional and although this tribunal is incompetent to see such a case which should be referred to a civil court. Although we respect the military tribunal, but the Egyptian regime is practicing heavy pressures on all the society and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular in order to achieve its targets and interests of a few individuals who have many powers which they grabbed through rigging people’s will and they use these powers against people’s interests. The current practices aren’t to people’s interests. What is happening now leads to weakening the country from inside, a weakness which is actually reflected on the country’s weight and role in the international and regional levels. This military tribunal leads to no good at all. Any possible sentence will add insult to injury in the domestic affairs. However, the Muslim Brotherhood will continue its message and no one managed and no one will mange to hurt its effect in the society. We hope that such a military farce stops.
Ikhwanweb: Are you satisfied with the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarians in the People’s Assembly although many notorious bills, topped by the constitutional amendments, have been approved?
Mohamed Morsi: The Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarians have exerted their utmost efforts to deal with such issues and they submitted alternative bills but they are still a minority while the majority MPs are responsible alone for those notorious laws and constitutional amendments.
Ikhwanweb: Has the coalition between MB parliamentary bloc and independent MPs succeeded specially that Sobhi Saleh garnered only votes of the Muslim Brotherhood MPs in the vote on the post of the People’s Assembly Speaker?
Mohamed Morsi:This coalition is good and has many privileges and there is a cooperation. The votes are usually high but during that vote some MPs were absent and there was a reported rigging of votes. Also, some opposition MPs had party commitments which prevented a 100 % vote.
Ikhwanweb: What is your assessment to the group’s situation before and after the elections of the People’s Assembly? Was the ensuing openness to the interest of the group?.
Mohamed Morsi :The group’s activities are growing and increasing every day. What we seek is our activities remain constitutional and lawful as usual. A huge momentum took place during the last three years and the regime that tried to stop such a momentum but it failed.
Ikhwanweb: Will the group field candidates in the coming municipal elections while there is no judicial supervision and under a possible repetition of the last Shura Council elections?
Mohamed Morsi: No decision has been taken yet regarding this.
Ikhwanweb: Have you met MB bloggers to know their viewpoints, to contain them, or for any other target?, did the activities of these MB bloggers have a positive or negative effect on the group?
Mohamed Morsi: These bloggers are our sons. I thought that meeting them is of many benefits, topped by reaching out to all sections of the group. This meeting wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last one.
Ikhwanweb: Do you agree on changing of the group’s emblem or slogan?
Mohamed Morsi: The Muslim Brotherhood group will not approve changing its emblem or slogan because it is a constant and there is no justification for changing it and it causes no damage.
Ikhwanweb: What about the Muslim Brotherhood’s relation with the United States . Will it be affected by the one taking the presidential office be he a Democratic or Republican?. Do you approve initiating a dialogue with the Americans?
Mohamed Morsi: we welcome any positive dialogue that leads to mutual benefits. Otherwise, we see such dialogues as a dictation, not a dialogue.
The US administration wants to deal with all peoples outside official circles so that the ones dealing with it in such a state may be accused of treason after that, something we fully reject. If the US administration wants to deal with us as a country, it can do so under supervision of the Egyptian government. If it wants to deal with us as a civil society institution, we welcome this and we are ready to deal with the western world in general, not only the Americans.
As for the difference of administrations from a Republican to a Democratic, we think that the content is the same although policies change. I don’t have any relation with the person ruling. What concerns me is the conduct and actions.
Ikhwanweb: Finally, many analysts see that the group’s attitude towards the issue of Tawreeth (hereditary transfer of rule) is shrouded in mystery. What is your opinion and what’s the MB attitude?.
Mohamed Morsi: We will approve people’s choice -whatever it may be- in free, fair and emocratically held elections. Otherwise, we don’t approve him.