Al-Shater: Our Hands are Extended to All for Dialogue and Cooperation
Khairat Al-Shater, the Freedom and Justice Party and Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections, said that he shapes relationships with other countries based on several criteria, the most important of which is “finding the common ground, a powerful core of shared interests, and understanding points of difference, as well as how these countries accept the democratic transition in our country, and a pledge by these countries’ administrations not to revert to old ways”.
In an interview with (France 24), the French news TV channel, Al-Shater said: “The basis for any relationship between States is to find common interests, and further deepen them, and to steer away from disputes and pointless arguments. So long as other states commit to this relationship, we have no problem dealing with them.
"Gulf security is linked to Egypt’s national security. The Arab region, its security and its interests are a matter of strategic importance for us and all the Egyptian people".
Further, Al-Shater added that, from the outset, the Brotherhood wanted to be part of the legislative authority, if the people chose them for that. He pointed that, “They also wanted to have some sort of presence in the executive branch, so they can fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptian people and achieve at least a part of its objectives.
“So, the Brotherhood tried to get the right to head a broad-coalition government in order to implement these programs. However, when they were prevented from forming that Cabinet, they resorted to fielding a candidate for the presidency, so as to be part of the executive authority and to be able to implement our own programs for the progress and revitalization of Egypt again.”
Al-Shater explained that applying Sharia is a much wider issue than some people think, “because we are talking about rebuilding, about renaissance, re-energizing a whole nation, on the basis of Islamic reference.
“Of course, today, most countries around the world have some kind of reference, like capitalism or socialism. So, we are talking about a wide frame of reference, and not just Islamic law as a concept or as specifically understood by some. Sharia is a broad framework that comprises a great deal of Independent Reasoning and a role for human judgment in the development of various life activities in the fields of economics, politics and sociology.”
Moreover, Al-Shater added, "This means opening up significantly. We study, analyze and learn from existing models, especially the Malaysian or Turkish experience, as well as many other models, in different aspects of life. We seek anything that could be useful in building modern Egypt, because we do not want to re-invent the wheel, nor do we wish to use an approach of trial and error. We try to benefit from the best aspects in others’ experiences, not only in Islamic countries, but in all the countries that were able to achieve success in the last century".
Regarding reports in certain Israeli media, Al-Shater pointed out that Israel is laying siege to the Gaza Strip, starving its people – something which does not correspond to the most basic concepts of justice.
“Although Egypt agreed to the terms of the Camp David Accord, Israel has not honored that Accord. Nevertheless, I am committed to any agreement that safeguards Egypt’s national security, so peace would prevail in the Middle East and the Arab World”, Al-Shater said, pointing out that the FJP is committed to all agreements already signed, since it is not acceptable that with every change in a country’s political system old agreements get reviewed. “Egypt is an old country with a glorious history; it honors its commitment and respects signed agreements”, he added.
Further, Al-Shater explained that if any agreement is re-examined or re-considered, this will be the work of state establishments and authorities, regardless of the president.
On the issue of Coptic fears, Al-Shater said: “Muslims and Copts in Egypt coexist with each other peacefully since 1400 years ago. And, for example, Copts are not barred from taking any posts or positions. In fact, recent tensions between Copts and Muslims were caused by plots and tactics of the ousted regime.
Al-Shater emphasized that his top priority in the coming period is to rekindle the spirit of interdependence and dialogue between Muslims and Christians, by making a special cultural and social effort to return to the beautiful time of peaceful coexistence and harmony throughout the nation.
On the issue of nomination of General Omar Suleiman for the presidency, Al-Shater said that Suleiman’s decision was wrong, and that his political intelligence betrayed him. “He should not have done so”, he added, “the Egyptian people will not allow anyone to reproduce a new version of the old corrupt regime, and his candidacy is clearly an attempt to reproduce the former political system which was rejected by the people in no uncertain terms”. He asserted that the people will not accept such an immeasurable insult.
He added that, in the event of any cases of fraud, as some fear, the people will not keep quiet, and will come out onto the streets again, in a new great revolution.
On the crisis in Syria, Al-Shater said: “The Muslim Brotherhood does not interfere in the internal affairs of any State”. However, he continued, from a human perspective, the Brotherhood supports the oppressed people to resist injustice and regain their rights. He pointed out that the Syrian people are great, revolutionary people, and that President Bashar Al-Assad is an authoritarian ruler.
Al-Shater addressed a word to Assad, saying: "Learn a lesson from what happened with Mubarak, Saleh and Gaddafi. Listen to the wishes of your people, through free elections and a truly democratic constitution. Halt the bloodshed, because your end will not differ from these oppressors".