Al-Shater on Dubai TV: Revolution Youth are Renaissance Mainstay, Hope of the Nation
|Wednesday, April 18,2012 21:48|
Stressing that the Muslim Brotherhood is certainly no state within a state, Khairat Al-Shater asserted that the organization is an integral part of the national fabric of the people and the homeland, offering a powerful project of comprehensive and real renaissance for Egypt.
In the "Al-Shar’i Al-Arabi" (Arab Street) on the satellite TV channel "Dubai", the Brotherhood’s Deputy Chairman said: "In the beginning, we announced that we would not field a presidential candidate, and the decision was based on reasoning and assumptions that we made clear at the time.
“Most important of those reasons was that the strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood and the FJP was based on concentrating presence in both chambers of parliament, with some sort of presence in the executive branch through a coalition government that includes all main political currents which have succeeded in winning a measure of people's support in the elections of the People's Assembly and Shura Council”.
Refuting certain claims that people rejected his candidacy, Al-Shater said that those allegations are neither true nor objective, because the reality proves otherwise. In various polls around the country, the Brotherhood continues to win sweeping victories, even after Al-Shater’s candidacy, with Brotherhood students securing about 80% of the votes wherever they ran in university student union elections.
“People know and trust the Brotherhood, as they evidently and repeatedly proved in the elections of the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council, trade unions, and student unions – wherever Brothers took part in free and fair elections. The people placed this responsibility on our shoulders. Ultimately, and with all due respect, what matters is the ballot-box, not some political analysis”, Al-Shater said.
He pointed out that all parties in the world change their political views and stances as political realities develop and change on the ground. This is particularly true in Egypt, as we are in the process of establishing a new system reflective of the revolution.
He added that the multiplicity and the variety of presidential candidates is a positive sign, since it expands options for the citizen, in full application of the new, true democracy in Egypt.
“Whatever the people's choice, so long as it comes through free and fair elections, we will certainly respect and accept it.”
Denying any link between the timing of his nomination and nomination of Omar Suleiman, Al-Shater said: “We, the Brotherhood and the FJP, decided to field a presidential nominee when the popular idea to form a government of national unity was ignored and rejected.
“It is illogical that a party chosen by the people with a relative majority is confined to legislative authority that, by its very nature, cannot solve everyday problems of the people, meet their needs or solve their crises.”
Having reiterated that the decision to nominate a contender was in fact taken by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council and the FJP’s National Committee, with proper consideration, Al-Shater said that since the FJP is the group’s political wing, it will deal with the Renaissance Project’s political aspects, explaining that there is agreement on a measure of coordination on strategic issues.
“Now, we represent the Renaissance Program Project. We announced its key elements in the first public conference after the decision to run for office. Details will be made available within a few days. Still, we consider those to be just initial, rather than final, principles of the overall vision.
“The role of the Muslim Brotherhood is to contribute to renaissance and rejuvenation efforts. All the people are also required to positively participate. If we get executive power, through the presidency or the Cabinet, the FJP will develop and shape the overall vision according to the will of the people.”
According to the Brotherhood’s leader, when the people choose any particular party through elections, they express a clear and certain wish for that party to shoulder the executive responsibility, above all else.
“Indeed, urban populations living in slum conditions are not aware of the oversight role of the legislative authority. Undoubtedly, we are aware of their daily needs of butane gas for cooking, diesel fuel and other basic needs that cannot be achieved if we are confined to legislative authority.
“We do not interfere in the affairs of any other country; and we do not seek to export any ideas abroad. Our idea is for establishing a political system and launching a real renaissance project that re-energizes our homeland.
“We recognize political borders and honor the sovereignty of other countries. Certainly, there is no evidence in our long history that we intervened in the affairs of any state.”
Neither Conflict Nor Confrontation
Al-shater went on, “We do not deal with anyone with the sword of anger. The spirit of conflict and confrontation is not consistent with our view of things and contrary to the truth and the refined vision of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We see the necessity of integration, understanding and coordination, as much as possible, between all stakeholders and actors, in order to save the ship, this homeland, from drowning, and to launch a comprehensive renaissance project.”
Regarding the Constituent Assembly tasked with writing the Constitution, Al-Shater said, “The people chose the FJP with more than 47% of their vote, and the salafi Nour party with 25% of the vote, and voted in several other Islamic parties.
“Hence, it is only natural and logical that these parties are represented by similar proportions within the constitutional panel, in accordance with the wish, the will and the evident choice of the people.”
He added, “Certainly, the FJP has not dominated the constitution-writing committee. Indeed, with its more than 50% majority in parliament, the FJP could have formed the Assembly alone and chosen and appointed its members in whatever way it wished. Instead, the FJP favored a broad consensus. This is how the Assembly comprises independent figures and parties which have even only one member in parliament”.
With regard to ousted Mubarak’s VP Omar Suleiman's candidacy, Al-Shater said: "In general, I support the right of any Egyptian to join the race. But with Omar Suleiman, we’re dealing with a key tool in the corrupt regime, Mubarak’s right hand of repression, persecution and tyranny.
“We cannot have one of the main symbols of the former regime, who actively participated in the administration of the regime – including the systematic looting of the wealth of the country – to have any role in post-revolution political life.”
Al-Shater continued: “The People’s Assembly has full and absolute right to pass the necessary law to bar Mubarak regime senior officials from running for the presidency. This is a legislative matter with which we entrusted the Parliament through free and fair elections.
“I have files on Omar Suleiman, but this is not the time to settle scores. In time, if it is in the public interest, I will do that, outside of election campaigning.”
Al-Shater went on to say: “We are facing a real challenge after 30 years of long-suffering patience. But the attempt to replicate the Mubarak regime will not be accepted by the Egyptian people. I said that his only chances of success will be through fraud. Then, we will have a second revolution.
“The people of Egypt spoke, telling Suleiman to go, when Mubarak appointed him vice-president, hoping he would calm or contain the revolution. The people rejected him immediately.”
Undoubtedly, Al-Shater emphasized, the people are fully aware of the notoriously brutal performance of intelligence in the days of Omar Suleiman.
“He took in many Islamists and handed them over to the U.S. Now he says he received death threats. That is a blatant lie. In his 30 years in power, Mubarak unfairly jailed more than 100 thousand of the Muslim Brotherhood members, letting loose the security services against them, even killing a number of them in various prisons and State Security cells and dungeons.”
Al-Shater continued: “Despite all this repression and physical and psychological persecution, not a single case was ever recorded of any of the Brothers assaulting a police officer. Our message and our approach are certainly non-violent”.
Contradicting recent reports, Al-Shater stressed that there are no divisions or splits within the Muslim Brotherhood, “What happened was that a group numbering no more than 15 people left the Brotherhood, after the revolution.
“They wanted to found a party other than the FJP, even after the decision of the Brotherhood’s Shura Council was announced. That was not logical, from our point of view. We gave them the choice of remaining with the organization or forming that new party.
“The general rule is Shura Council decisions are binding on all members. We can see that the means and methods of serving the homeland vary a lot. And we do not force anyone to follow the Brotherhood’s chosen approach.
“Naturally, the presence of dissenting opinions is perfectly normal in any human gathering, but once our Shura Council has made a decision, we are required to abide by it, even if we disagree with it.”
Heading Down to the Street
Al-Shater said, “We go down to the street, to Tahrir and other liberation squares, in order to put pressure on the various parties when it is necessary to take such action to protest about major issues of importance from our point of view.
“On the other hand, in side-issues, we have a point of view not to go down to the street. This, however, does not detract from our respect and appreciation for the role of youth in general, since the revolution and until today. Indeed, we will give youth a primary role in the next phase.”
Iran and Israel
On the issue of international interventions in the affairs of the Arab world, Al-Shater said: “We, Arabs and Muslims, have reached a sufficiently advanced level of political and cultural awareness, maturity and experience of civilization, better and deeper than the West.
“We, therefore, must make our own decision based on our own circumstances, relevant to our own people. The Egyptian people have imposed their will and toppled the regime which had been admired by the West for decades.”
Al-Shater added that, “The issue of governance and the political system of Sunni Islam has its distinctive perspective.
“Indeed, unlike the Iranian experience, Islamists do not enjoy any special privilege when in office, according to Sunni principles. Hence, the Iranian model is totally different from our way of thinking. This is a well-known essential religious fact.”
Praising the Turkish experience and its many positive aspects, Al-Shater pointed out that, “We will not confine our efforts to that model alone. Indeed, we’ve already studied experiences and successes of many other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.
“We are always looking out for useful points and possibilities of making use of those in building our new post-revolution Egypt, taking into account that each country has its own circumstances and specificity, which makes it impossible to simply replicate any particular experience.”
On the regional situation and the threats facing the region, Al-Shater said: “Now, there is some threat, to a certain extent, from Iran in the Arab region. However, as long as they operate within their own country, we have no problem with them.
“We do not interfere in their affairs and do not allow them to interfere in ours. We condemn Iran’s unconditional and illegitimate support for massacres and repression in Syria, as well as Iran’s enormous support of the Shiites in Iraq, which reflected negatively on Sunni Muslims there.”
Furthermore, Al-Shater stressed that, “We, Arabs and Muslims, accept any support for the resistance, so long as it is against a common enemy.
“But when it comes to making threats against Sunni Muslims, or against the security of the Gulf and the Arab region at large, that is totally unacceptable. We cannot accept any such threats or interference.”
On the Palestinian issue, Shater said: “We support the absolute right of the Palestinian people in seeking their rights”, pointing that the siege of Gaza and the fragmentation of the occupied West Bank violates human rights and all laws and principles of justice.
He further added, “We cannot speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in determining the most acceptable solution for them. But we certainly support whatever solution they settle upon and deem appropriate.
“What was happening in the past, by Mubarak and his regime, was in fact unthinking support to Israel and its stances. We have told many Western and U.S. parties and delegations that it was now time for them to reconsider their handling of the current conflict in the region, after the significant changes witnessed in the wake of Arab spring revolutions.
“Previous agreements continue to exist, as long as all parties are committed to their terms. In any event, a ruler cannot address national issues on his own.
“Indeed, the president has to work through state institutions. Also, with regard to regional affairs, there has to be understanding and dialogue between Arab neighbors and brothers.”
Al-Shater continued, “I do not doubt that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most serious threat for the region. Failure to resolve it, in a fair and objective manner, will lead to dangerous developments. And as we already said, Iran plays a role in the region’s dangers and threats.
“We, therefore, must have dialogue and understanding amongst us, Arabs and Sunni Muslims, to counter the threats and neutralize the dangers of both parties.”
With regard to his health, Al-Shater confirmed that his family did not ask for him to be released for health reasons, adding that all reports about his health in the media are just ‘press reports’, “Although after the age of sixty, it is natural to have some health problems.
“About eighteen months before the revolution, a senior official in the State Security Investigation Service asked me, while I was still in prison, to write a request for a pardon on health grounds, to help polish Gamal Mubarak’s image, in order to promote the idea of bequeathal of power in the West. But I could not accept that.”
On dubious rumors circulated about his business, Al-Shater said: "I was never involved in the currency exchange business. I’ve always dedicated my life to useful, creative and constructive work and business pursuits.
“These allegations are all just baseless lies and malicious slander, made and circulated by failures and fifth columnists for their own pernicious purposes.”
He added, quoting the words of the renowned Imam Ibn Hazm, “Indeed, he who works in public service must give up part of his dignity for the sake of raising the banner of truth”.
Finally, Al-Shater sent several messages, addressing the first to youth of the revolution, saying: “We appreciate and cherish the vital role you play. You are the driving force for the Renaissance Project and for the protection of the revolution, which must continue until it achieves its goals. You are the hope of the nation and the future”.
In a message addressed to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Al-Shater called upon the country’s top generals to make maximum effort to honor the promise of a real transfer of power to civil authorities and competent state institutions.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood leader refuted claims of an agreement with SCAF, stressing that: “We have no special deals of any kind with SCAF, neither under nor over the table”.
In conclusion, Al-Shater addressed a message to Dr. Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh saying, “I wish you every success and good fortune, in your pursuits”.
In a message to Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Al-Shater urged him to contribute positively and effectively to the building of state institutions.
Al-Shater further called on Omar Suleiman to withdraw from the presidential race, so as not to bring to the minds of the Egyptians the Mubarak regime model, practices and the whole phase of repression and tyranny.
This interview was conducted prior to Al-Shater's exclusion from Egypt's presidential race.