• December 16, 2005
  • 3 minutes read

Ambassador: Egypt not going Islamist

Ambassador: Egypt not going Islamist

Ambassador: Egypt not going Islamist

Minimizing election gains by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy said Thursday his country was moving toward a centrist and not an Islamist political position.

Reflecting on monthlong parliamentary elections over breakfast with American reporters, Fahmy said, “I see it as a vote for change rather than going Islamist. It is an evolution, not a revolution.”

“I don’t know where it will end,” he said, and change will take years.

Egypt’s banned Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, performed better than most expected in the elections, winning 88 seats compared to the 15 it held in the outgoing 454-member parliament.

The real shift, Fahmy said, was the strong showing of independent candidates.

But he said the elections were not about ideology, but about which parties and groups were the best organized.


He also disputed accounts of widespread violence, saying violence occurred in only 10 to 25 of the thousands of polling stations.

Before the election, the Bush administration periodically urged Egypt and President Hosni Mubarak to take a democratic course, but U.S. officials never threatened any punitive measures.

“I see America’s involvement in reform in Egypt as positive,” Fahmy said. “I have no problem at all with that.”

And yet, the ambassador suggested Egypt has been on a reform course for three decades. “Our reform process started before President Bush’s election,” he said.

For instance, Fahmy said, the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat changed Egypt into a multiparty system.

Turning to Iraq, the ambassador said a two-year-old Egyptian offer to train Iraqi troops had never received a direct U.S. response.

Egypt offered to train 3,000 troops every three months, but so far has trained only 146 people, Fahmy said.

“It has got to the point I have stopped begging,” he said.

Later, asked about Fahmy’s remarks, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said there was a disagreement between Egypt and Iraq over where the training should be conducted and it was up to them to work it out.