• November 23, 2006
  • 37 minutes read

Hamdy Kandil: Why such a panic from Muslim Brotherhood?

Hamdy Kandil: Why such a panic from Muslim Brotherhood?

Hamdy Qandil to Al- Misri Al-Youm:  The Regime describes the Muslim Brotherhood as “Outlawed”, Egyptians consider the regime as “Outlawed”!!

I met him under the dazzling lights of Dubai; we spent a long time chattering about many things; this was not my first time to meet him, I met him several times; but I always feel as if it is the first in my life because he is like a deep well that never dries; the man, about 70 years old, was expressing- between his brows- the enthusiasm of youth; and the one can read wisdom into the wrincles of his forehead; he still holding- with freedom- his pen attacking furiously; when we decided to start the interview, and before he started smoking his tenth cigarette, I asked him:

-Does your campaign for supporting Hamas in Palestine mean that you support Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood?

-Let me start with a question to officials: why all this panic from the Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim Brotherhood is an acceptable political trend among people, why don’t you give it the space to express itself; intimidating it is actually a ridiculous method, and describing the MB in the mass media as “outlawed” is wrong because the regime doesn’t know that Egyptians consider the ruling National Party as the an “outlawed” party; this is because this party represents a trivial and shallow sector of the Egyptians.

-Some are skeptic about the Muslim Brotherhood’s intentions, and assert that it seeks, with all its practices, the office of the president?

-This is legitimate; you can’t accuse those people who are concerned with politics and seek change; how can you accuse them of being enemies although they seek change through peaceful means; I feel astonished at those who reject that the Muslim Brotherhood assumes power; I assure that it is its right to seek rule like any group, power, party or independents regardless of our views concerning it.

-Let me be more specific in my question and please be frank with me: do you support the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideologies or do you reject them regardless of their right to assume power?

-I have no reservations if the Muslim Brotherhood would share power.

-Do you mean power sharing only or assuming full power,
If this is what people want … why not?

-Some circulate that if the Muslim Bretherhood assumes power, Egypt will be turned into another Taliban; this is a wicked propaganda that aims to defame the Muslim Bretherhood and make people feel dubious about them; Taliban’s era has ended and their method isn’t suitable for our time and I do believe that the Muslim Bretherhood is smart enough and aware of the crisis of our time; add to this, there is the experience of Hamas that assumed power in Palestine; has it banned music or forced women to wear the veil? Even Iran, the religious state, has political and intellectual multiplicity that does not exist in Egypt; however, the Egyptian government deprived us from seeing Iran and it severed its relations with it; yet I am against establishing a religious state.

-Is your support for the Muslim Brotherhood due to the fact that it opposes the regime that you reject as well, or is it because it is the only opposing power now?

Opposition is the common public trend in Egypt; people can not find any one expressing their desires; the Muslim Bretherhood appeared to be the best that can reflect people’s desires because it is the biggest and most highly organized opposition power due to its underground organization; also, it gave due care to people’s affairs. For example, the Muslim Brothers managed to save many victims in 1992 earthquake; they rescued people before the government moved; the Muslim Bretherhood is well trained on popular, social and political activities.

-Who is the real one involved in the campaign that depicted the Muslim Brotherhood group as a terrorist violent group?

-Of course, it is the regime and mass media. They hate the Muslim Brothers in Egypt since Nasser’s era, as media launched a fierce attack against them and rallied people against them; however, the Muslim Brotherhood managed to be reorgainzed and reached out to people while other opposition parties were not able to do the same because the government planned to demolish them . . . in order to quell any opposition power.
The regime confined the opposition powers to their party headquarters; thoughts and ideologies have never reached people unless through popular conferences and through meeting people; however the oppressive regime refused all these demonstrations. The second reason is that the mass media focused its campaign on the ruling National Party and refused to focus on any other party . . .  the third reason is personal interests and whims.

-According to your political experience, do you expect that Muslim Brotherhood will assume rule, soon?

-No…because the dictatorship of this regime is heavy and the influence of security is unlimited, we are living in a police state and this state will never allow the Muslim Brothers to rule because there is an overflowing spite between the MB and the security.

-You said that we are living in a police state; so where is power: in the hands of the regime or in the hands of the security services?

Security is the president

-What I mean is that, do you expect the Muslim Brotherhood will assume power after the era of President Mubarak ends, will the security allow it, as you said that we are living in a police state?

-In Egypt when the president’s era ends the security does not go with him, yet it remains. Security in Egypt has a long history; it never wanes away because every new power will resort to the same security measures in order to keep proponents.

In this case, I go back to my question; do you think the Muslim Brotherhood can rule?

-According to the ongoing circumstances in Egypt, I predict two things, either the post of the president would be transfered to his son, an all-embracing disaster; or there would be another surprise I hope it would not be bad.

-Proponents of the regime who back Gamal Mubarak’s future ascension to power wonder if there is really fair elections, why do all people refuse him?

-This is nonsense; because there is no constitutional elections in Egypt; the first step is that there should be fair elections because this is the main criterion before speaking about the right of Gamal Mubarak to rule or not. When constitutional and democratic elections spread in Egypt; at this time, we will accept any winner or candidate; if this fair elections did not take place, this will be considered a forgery like any common forgery everywhere; I know well what the pro-Gamal Mubarak will say; they will start convincing us that they are not pleased with with the current conditions and they want change; the next step is that they start asking who is the most capable to further change? They start deluding us by saying that the best one who is capable of furthering change is young people, those who have new thought; “third leap” so they will speak about Gamal Mubarak as the most well-equipped politician and will further change. They will brainwash people and say that there is no other alternative but Gamal Mubarak, otherwise the country may fall in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood; first, just give us fair elections and consequently we promise to accept all candidates even Gamal Mubarak.

-What will happen if Gamal Mubarak won in such elections?

. . . I exclude Gamal Mubarak’s win because if he would assume power, he will get it through succession; Gamal Mubarak may be a well-known young man who I have never met and he may offer good ideas- actually I doubt this- even the ideas that he has recently presented to us are trivial; it is only the authorities that back him.

-You said that we need a generation of young men and at the same time you described  Gamal Mubarak as a junior politician, how can experience be available in a young man who is going to  rule Egypt?

-Experience does not necessarily mean age, otherwise the current ruler would have became the most experienced and it would not change; what we aim is that the rule needs vitality and experience, available among many Egyptian intellectuals and politicians.

-What are your impressions about the Syrian president Bashar Al-Asad whom you mentioned recently in your program “Qalam Rusas” ؟

-Bashar is a famous young man who assumed power- from my own views-in an illegitimate way but he tries always to offer Syria many things but he did not succeed up till now due to the heavy legacy of the past and the great changes required in the rulling regime itself which need change in objective, not a change of persons, definitely because we have no precedents in other Arab countries where rulers come through a legitimate way in order to repeat in Egypt.

-If we looked at the peaceful [Egyptian] nuclear program do you see it a step towards consolidating the economic situation?

-I was amazed strongly that such a declaration comes in the words of a new politician or from a prominent member in the National Party, and the strangest thing is that all the people are speaking about the Egyptian nuclear program as if we will possess a nuclear program tomorrow despite there was no meeting that took place from the government’s part to decide whether this idea is executable or no?  Are we prepared therefore or no ؟ Do we have scientists at the highest levels? Do we have capabilities which can make all dreams come true? Or will all people cheer for the dream because of one word uttered by Gamal Mubarak, this matter is extremely odd and this a model of hegemony to what the country will see in future if Gamal Mubarak ruled Egypt.

-Some repeats that there is an opposition from The United States to the nuclear program project then what is your opinion?

-Repeating such rumors is from the National Party so that they would  bestow the project importance and a halo they do not deserve it such allegations will make them appear as if they are heroes who were able to challenge America and this not real because there is no American objection on the project at all, besides all  knows even  before the declaration of the program the limits of it and that Egypt does not have the intention anyway for challenge because Egypt is not Iran.

-By the way, let me relate to you what the people say about the  reconciliation policy adopted by President Mubarak and not rushing behind enthusiastic speeches and anti-US statements; they say that this is better because it saves us from the woes of war [against Israel]and we can’t enter any war and our economy does not bear imposing any sanctions ؟

-You re right, we are actually not capable of this big disaster… how long will we remain incapable? . . . The real challenge is not through war, yet it can be through responsibility, so I appeal to the governments to reform the economic conditions in order to be able to challenge, even if the beginning is late yet it is essential for the coming generations. By the way, there are many smaller countries who were able to stand and challenge America like Venezuela; it is not essential to be a great country in order to challenge. Egypt is located in a strategic place and played many historical roles, in addition to individual capabilities that are not available in the Arab region, so it can use all these capabilities in order to be a great country; but unfortunately Egypt was a great country but collapsed during the reign of the current regime.

-Are the disputes with the current regime due to the long period of time the president spent in ruling Egypt?

-The rotation of power is one of the great aspects of democracy; in addition, the regime should always offer new and modern developments; there is no regime that can offer anything new after 25 years of ruling a country.

-Which do you favor; complete reform or gradual reform?

-I always supported the gradual reform, but it is irrational to speak now about the gradual reform after 25 years; there is no time.

-What about your own concepts about reform?

-I think that some of the sagacious of this nation, who enjoy high experience and intellect and are not favored by regime; should unite to devise a new constitution and invite people to vote for fairly; this would lead to a parliamentary rule and not to a presidential rule.

-You were from the supporters of the Regime of Nasser, so why do you blame this current regime?

-People can differentiate between who is supporting just for hypocrisy and personal interests and who is supporting for common weal, I wish that all members in the National Democratic Party do believe in the ideologies of the party; I doubt this.

-The Minister of Investment declared that the commission of selling Alexandria Bank is one of the best commissions at all, what do you think?

-Let me assure you there are so many companies, institutions affiliated with the public sector and they are unsuccessful, they need to be sold in order to reform their administration, we can make contracts with Arabs and foreigners, even if the contracts were expensive because you need to reform these foundations. I do not know the reason behind selling actually; however, the most important question is where do these millions go? And who is the one who benefits?

-What about selling the banks?

-I have many reservations regarding this issue, because even in liberal countries and the liberal economic schools have set limits for private capitalist liberation; firstly because there are many rules prohibiting monopoly- they are strict rules-while these rules do not exist in Egypt, for example Mr. Ahmad Ezz who is only one man was allowed to monopolize one of the important Egyptian industry which is the industry of iron and steel, secondly there should be censorship from the part of the state, there should be some foundations which submit to the supervision of the government even after selling it also many foundations should not be sold entirely. Regarding banks, banks are the core of economy. How would that Egypt carried out a great revolution to nationalize foreign  banks while now we are selling it to foreigners then we boast that they were the best commissions! Why is not anyone paying attention to the experience of Palestine, where banks failed to evade the International economic net domineered by America, these banks succeeded in oppressing Palestinians due to the absence of even one national Palestinian bank that may have helped the PA during their economic crisis. How can we hand banks again to foreigners?  What about the millions gained from commissions? Did we establish by these money good railways, sewerage systems or anything like? Why do not officials in Egypt speak with us with transparency? Are they selling the country for their own interests?

-Hamdy Qandil is a man who addicted to pick out a flower from every country; these roses reflect the romance in this man who appears before screens as a man of gloomy face who is overwhelmed by the problems and miseries of his nation. You can hear his sighs when he speaks about his beloved that he always yearned to…. It is Lebanon.

-My relations with Lebanon are very special because I worked at beginning of my career there in 1959; Lebanon at that time was a nest for the free press, which expressed all opinions, my relations with Lebanon became firm especially in 2000 when Israel withdrew, for me this was a historical event because the people not an army who succeeded to expel Israeli occupation forces; this is something unusual. I was amazed with Hezbollah group and its prominent leader Hassan Nasrallah especially after I met him 5 times… I have very good impressions about him; he is a very transparent character, charismatic leader unlike any leader in the Arab region, I did not find a man like this since Nasser’s time. Nasrallah is very tolerant although he has an overwhelming enthusiasm also he is wise and courageous.

-Do you think he is an alternative for Gamal Abdul Nasser?

-To great extent, because he is the only one where the whole nation agreed on, we welcome anyone who can keep the name of the Arab honor and have future prospects and we invite him to rule us. I wish that the nation gives Hezbollah the rein to rule us even for 5 years. I believe that Haassan Nasarallah can be my ruler although I am Sunni and he is Shiite. Differences between Sunni and Shiite do exist but not to the extent to fuel sedition.
How wonderful it is to meet a man ho has no weak points and does not know fear, he believes only in strife and sacrifice, he receives orders from no one, he is the veteran who shocked all people, did not refuse a question and did not evade any answer.

-Although you met many presidents and Kings from the Arab world and made controversial interviews yet you did not meet one man who is President Mubarak, is there any disputes between you?

-President Basshar Al-Assad is the one who invited me to interview him, he told me that I should meet President Mubarak, I will go if President Mubarak asked me to do so, but I don’t ask people for interviews.

-Do you bear any hatred towards one another?

-No but we have some sensitivities from one another

-What do you think about the interview made by Emad Adib with President Mubarak?

-It was an unsuccessful interview although Emad Adib is one of the great Arab interviewers, however agreeing first on the questions and the scenarios the interview resulted in an interview that is void of transparency and truth.

-How do you analyze the character of Gamal Mubarak from a media aspect?

-Regardless of policy, bias and interests and according to my experience in media, the character of Gamal Mubarak is an extremely unsuccessful TV figure, he does not have the charisma at all, besides the programs where he appeared on was prepared previously so it was void from credibility that people believed that this is just framed for the sake of Gamal Mubarak; of course this did not contribute to making connectedness with people. His facial expressions are sullen and hard besides he is very elegant to an extra limit, and the permanent frowning is not necessarily to indicate the solemnity then sometimes it indicates the isolation and the remoteness from the people, also the authoritative tone in his sound when speaking about himself does not indicate self-confidence, yet this indicates conceit and this is attributed to the authority that supports him  and this is my opinion with severe neutrality regardless of the agreement or the political disagreement with it.

-What about President Mubarak?

-The president has a spontaneity I believe that it is real and he uses sometimes expressions usually we do not hear them from a ruler yet common and closer from the citizen level that can be pleasant sometimes to people.

-What is different about your program “Qalam Rusas” [pencile] than other programs?

-Qalam Rusas is an extention to the program “Rais Tahrir” [chief editor]that was displayed in the Egyptian television or “With Hamdi Qandil” at ART, I don’t believe that Qalam Rusas differs from other programs even from the political aspect.

The only difference is the freedom area available in this program unlike other channels where I worked at, and I believe this freedom is not available to my colleagues in any other Arab channel . . .

-Do most Egyptians still watch yout show?

-I do not believe so, because of two reasons first because my program is displayed on a satellite channel which is not available for all people [in Egypt], the second, is that I care for Arab issue as they are my priority and not only the Egyptian issues, but of course I still have a big Egyptian audience.

-And what about your popularity?

-I can not measure it but the Egyptian masses are  very intelligent and more that people may think, specially their rulers and officials and can discriminate between the chalk and cheese and between the true and the hypocrite, and know well who can reflect his feelings and accordingly I believe that I have a big popularity and a diverse audience in Egypt,from housewives, young men and politicians.

-Do you remember an incident where you had to change your stance?

-I know that I defend issues I am sure they are unsuccessful ones, for example I supported Hezbollah during the attacks launched against Lebanon, and I know that the matter would not be like what Hezbollah wanted, I also supported Hamas although I was sure that it will fail but till the last moments I will keep on supporting Hamas, I said that Hamas must rule without any kin of interference eve if it compiled a unified government; and if Hamas receded, its right must be respected.

What is clear to people is that any one will be supporting the regime, then he will succeed but in fact it is not real success since all Arab governments will wane away, although it may take time. Perhaps, I may not see changes in my life but from within I feel that I am defending the issues of the future.

-Do you think that media and the programs of Hamdy Qandil can frame the beliefs of people or even force them to adopt certain issues?

-There is no one who owns the absolute impact because media is just a motivator, also surely people have different levels for being influenced and change does not take place only through media, yet it should take place due to the efforts of politicians, the civil society, and all effective trends in the society. All should unite in order to further change. All these efforts will be futile if the governmental regimes will not change and remained as they are. Undoubtedly, media is better influencing people rather than any party especially television which is very influential.

-Which issue did Hamdi Qandil was able to influence through his programs?

-Unfortunately, I admit that I did not influence any thing because influence implicates results and I did not see any clear results up till now for all the issues I adopted.

-You contributed to the participation of several Arab channels, why do not you own a channel then?

-Because ownership for a channel needs exorbitant fees, and I do not have capital although we can watch a number of satellite channels… yet unfortunately they are for music, entertainment, short messages from viewers which abound in vulgar expressions and this distorts the screen, such channels are very easy to establish while different and respectable channels need great amount of money and this is something which I lack.

-Why do not you seek the help of business men to finance the project?

-Because every business man has his own agenda, that’s why you may see channels that differ not from the fake governmental channels because they are managed by a person who has certain interests. Regarding the idea that calls for the participation of more than one business man in one channel this is impossible because every business man has his own interests and sometimes these interests are contradictory like the Arab governments who failed to establish even one channel to face west. All current experiences prove that there is a capitalist entity that dominates one channel or several channels like ART and MBC and in Egypt like dream and Al-Mihwar.

-Then finance is the problem that aided to the failure of Mahattat Misr Channel where you attended several sessions about the project then you stopped?


-I heard that the reasons behind this stoppage is that the government refused to give you license because you are from one of the opponents?

-It is not easy to practices measures on free people who have their own opinions while business men can be easily influenced, this was exactly what happened besides this project required that we all should exist in Cairo but I am not ready to go to Cairo again unless I am sure about the matter, I want to say that I enjoy a wonderful opportunity which is the absolute freedom to express my opinion.

-Concerning freedom, don’ you see that the Egyptian TV has opened doors for some opponents according to the concept of freedom?

-May be there is a little bit of freedom in Egyptian press but in my own views, this is a formal freedom because red lines still exist also  there are still pressures practiced on presenters, there are many limits concerning inviting prominent characters in society, to be hypocrite in order to please the regime is something necessary  , propaganda for the regime is still the first criterion, all these points of weakness can never contribute to a successful media; if there really were a successful media as some herald.

-But the freedom for press and media never existed before even if there are fierce practices yet can not be compared to the times of Nasser and Sadat?

-Time differs; previously Egypt was in a state of war and if presidents failed at the past in some issues they can have their excuse as Egypt was suffering occupation and war, besides there were other Arab values; to keep the good Arab name, and to get rid of occupation however, now it is different because the situation is different and values as well; the values of today is freedom, democracy and human rights. What you speak about is just shallow kind of democracy although we thank the government for allowing some freedom to some opposing magazines, but this  is attributed to the fact that the government is aware that the ratio of illiteracy is high, besides opposing magazines can reach only a small sector of people, even if the copies exceeded 500 thousands copy and If we supposed that one copy is read by more than one then the ratio will not exceed million person. The aim behind this limited democracy is that the government would boast for this false opposition before other foreign countries just in order to deceive people that Egypt has freedom of expression. This was clear in what Safwat Al-Sheriff, the former minister of information used to reply if asked about  freedom , he would reply that we have the program of “Ra’is Tahrir” which is displayed for opposition but when this opposition becomes intensified they start fighting freedom like when they tried Mustapha Bakry, Wael Al-Ibrashi, Ibrahim Eissa, or when they seized the career of journalism by force from Abdul Halim Qandil.

When you become an owner of a word then you are an owner for freedom….when you own choice then you added a significance for your life…if your opinion is free then you are an adventurer who has no interests or accounts exactly like Hamdy Qandil the one whom I tried to  joke with by my questions then he tried to  joke me with his answers in the  game of stars, politics, media and culture ..
Some people want to prove what Dr. Nazif said that people are politically ignorant and don’t know how to practice democracy?
Dr.Nazif is the one who is not aware of people because he is ignorant in policy he is just qualified in communication sciences no more, he has no political history and “rule” must be assumed by people who studied policy and aware of popular activities.

-Does Egypt embody the Yacobian Building?

-Yes, Egypt is Yacobian Building, and the corruption of the people in the building stems from the corruption of the authority because it demolished, inside people, all values especially corruption which mingled with money.

-Whom do you nominate to be a president?

-Amr Musa, because I have a friendship with him and I trust him because he was the most powerful Egyptian minister of foreign affairs, I believe that the success he achieved when he was a minister was the real reason behind freezing him to be in the Arab League, I hope that he will resign from this position because his history and experience deserve a better position.

-What is your opinion in What Musa said that Peace has died?

-His statement was very late, he should have declared this previously because peace died from a long period, he should not have advised us to submit the peace process to UN, I thought that his statement would have amazed Arab rulers yet it seems that nothing amazes them.

-Mahmoud Mohie Eldin, Minister of investment?

-He demolished everything

-Fathi Surour, the speaker?

-I want to tell him, “that is enough”

-Sheikh Saleh Kamel?

-He is the only Arab capitalist who is aware of all arts of television.

-Dr. Ahmad Bahgat?

-He is the only faithful business man while others died.

-Amr Khafagi?

-A good manager who added many things for Dream channel?

-Doctor Hassan Ratib?

-I advise him to curb his appearance on Al- Mihwar channel.

-Ibrahim Eissa?

-The most interesting presenter

-Parliament member Talaat Al-Sadat?

-He is a popular man who strayed and found himself a member in the parliament.

-What will happen if you remained a journalist at the “Akbar Al-Youm”?

-Sure, they would have appointed me to be a doorman in a garage!

-A figure that is scheduled in your agenda?

-President Hugo Chavez the President of Venezuela, I asked him already but the appointment was delayed due to his busy agenda because he is busy in Venezuela’s membership to the UN Security Council.

-A figure that you refuse to meet?

-President Zain Al-Abedin of Tunisia due to his quelling background and also due to the international and national policies of Tunisia.

-Why don’t you interview him and face him?

-Anyone I don’t love I hate meeting accordingly.


I met him twice, actually he is a controversial character for me, he has strange and shocking ideas all his resolutions are accompanied with ado. Ado is something very essential in a time of silence especially if he has different views. He is an excellent TV figure because people always need queer figures and untraditional one.

-The President whom you never believe him?

-The Palestinian president Abu Mazen, while the president whom I no longer believe is the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Al-Saleh, who promised not to run elections then he did not keep his promise.

-Safwat Al-Sheriff?

-We have a relation of friendship but sometimes this relation become like Tom and Jerry.

-Despite all what he did to you?

-I consider greatly the circumstances that surround Sheriff and the pressures he faces, and finally it is not in his hands, by the way he was invited to dinner with me, last Ramadan.

-Ayman Nour?

-I have great sympathy towards him, and I believe that the case of forgery against him was a concocted one, although I don’t like many his practices, yet this case was concocted to him on Friday, where he was having a vacation, but actually this is the price of his courage.

-The program of Ra’is Tahrir?

-It was the great mistake of the government and it hurried to correct it

-If you have an invitation with President Gamal Abdul Nasser, what would you tell him?

-I would tell him that you destroyed yourself by demolishing political freedoms.

-And Sadat?

-I wish you have lived longer so we would have enjoyed your speeches

-Anas Al-Fiqi [Minister of Media]?

-He made changes in form but not in contact

-A question to which your reply will be: “No comment”?

-If they asked me why don’t you go to President Mubarak to complain to him for stopping your program like what happened when you met President Nasser?

-When will you retire?

-When I lose enthusiasm

-When will you lose enthusiasm?

-I don’t think I will lose it all over my life.