Interview: MB Secretary General Slams Egyptian Regime’s Violations
Egypt has recently been plagued by many disasters including fires that erupted in parliament and cultural palaces and theaters plus corruption that labels the government”s day-to-day work. There is also the hottest and continuously open file in Egypt, the file of freedoms that has resurfaced in the past days in several cases: Closing Alexandria”s Aljazeera school, the attempted murder of citizen Hamada Abdul Latif, the detention of Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Bar, rupturing the thorax of the media figure Bilal Abdul Rahman, through rigged the students elections and endangered Bar association elections. We showed these files to Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood group, who urged the Egyptian regime to reconsider its situations and correct the current turmoil before its aggravates and leads to a serious impact on Egypt.
Ikhwanweb: How do you see what is currently happening in Egypt?
Dr. Ezzat: Egypt is undoubtedly facing a very serious stage. These day-to-day disasters are a natural result of the political deadlock, economic failures and social frailty we are facing. Every thing takes place against people”s will and interests. This spawned crises everywhere. How come that a big country like Egypt fails in the containing a fire inside one of its most important establishments, the Shura Council (the upper chamber of parliament)? See also the negligence- to be of good intentions- that led to destruction of other places without learning lessons from the Shura Council fire. The entire world watches the government”s utter failure in tackling Al Duweiqa crisis, failure in relocating people and a failure in even recovering bodies under rubble. It is natural from a regime that doesn”t respect human rights.
The regime is politically guilty
Ikhwanweb: Some see this as unfair because most of these may be labeled natural disasters?
Dr. Ezzat: These disasters- even those seemingly natural disasters- are due to clear and flagrant government negligence both in preventing the disaster and in tackling its aftermath.
Aside from these cases, see what happened with Hamada Abdul Latif. Was this a natural disaster? Was what he faced along with Bilal Abdul Rahman a natural disaster? Are the fires hitting Egypt natural disasters? Is blocking a court ruling for a school a natural disaster? Is killing a mother and her baby under wheels of a police car a natural disaster? Are price-hikes and deterioration of public conduct in the street a natural disaster?
The regime is politically blamed and blatantly unjust. A tyrannical or careless person has his share of the crime.
Ikhwanweb: Regarding Al-Jazeera school case and what citizen Hamada Abdul Latif faced, the group is accused of seizing this case to smear the image of the government, and that if this school had been owned by any one else, the group wouldn”t have moved.
Dr. Ezzat: Al-Jazeera school has no relation with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is true that its owner is a member of the MB, but it is still a personal project owned by an Egyptian citizen, an unconstitutional issue which the court backed and ordered it reopened to continue classes. There is a court order that backs opening the school while the Interior Ministry maintains its violation of the law and closes the school. There is no respect of law from a country that says it works to enforce law. Why isn”t the court ruling enforced? What harms the country when a well-reputed school is opened? It is as if there are some persons who benefit from closing the school and use all state capabilities to eradicate this project.
Even if this school had violated law, there are administrative and legal procedures- not terrorist police measures- to be taken. What the school pupils and their parents faced is extremely serious. What did Hamada Abdul Latif commit to face such a deadly treatment which caused him a quadriplegia and crashed his thorax? He only took his two little girls to school. What has he committed to be beaten in front of his little daughters in the middle of the street and in front of many people? What has he committed against his country to reach such a state of hanging between life and death at the hands of a Interior Ministry commander in Alexandria? Has he stolen public money? Has he destroyed the Shura Council and caused Al Duweiqa accident?
What happened with Hamada Abdul Latif should stir all people because this incident may recur with others unless the perpetrator is held accountable. Is it reasonable that this victim who is currently hospitalized is facing a fake charge while the real criminal is on the loose?
What Hamada Abdul Latif faced defames the whole country and its establishments. It shows also that bullying may return to Egypt in the absence of the state of law. It also deepens the gap between people and police service and the Interior Ministry. Unless these violations stop, people will not respect law or constitution.
Victims of torture
Ikhwanweb: But there are other cases which are tougher than Hamada Abdul Latif”s, some of which included murder, why this case in particular, is it because he belongs to the group?
Dr. Ezzat: Hamada Abdul Latif is an Egyptian layman who was beaten to quadriplegia. It is a humanitarian case which requires sympathy. I reiterate that what Hamada faced may happen to others unless the perpetrator is held accountable because such kind of policemen must be deterred so as not to turn into monsters that hit and kill without accountability. I warn against this because they are part of this homeland and their violation to law- although they should enforce it- is a disaster in itself.
Hamada”s is not a special case. It opens the human rights file in Egypt in general. What happened with Hamada happened also with the journalist Bilal Abdul Rahman, whose only crime was that he asked about the prosecution permit or arrest warrant when he was arrested by the security in the house of Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Bar. His demand enraged the officer who fatally wounded him in the thorax. The prosecution rushed him to the nearest hospital to save his life. This recurred with this mother and her baby whom the police killed in front of people. This confirms my saying that this issue isn”t restricted to the Muslim Brotherhood only. The number of these cases may increase as long as the criminal is still on the loose and unless he stands trial for such crimes.
Ikhwanweb: Is the crisis of freedoms in Egypt restricted to torture cases?
Dr. Ezzat: No, torture cases are the ugliest in the black file of freedoms. What else do you expect after torturing a human being whatever his affiliation or the crime he committed? As for the remainder of the file of freedoms, it is full of problems and violations. Blocking the Bar association elections to set the scene for the National Democratic Party (NDP) to get prepared proves these violations. Another piece of evidence is the student elections which assassinated all claims of freedom of opinion and expression. These elections empowered the ruling party and underscored its plans to extend its hands on public services and potentials denying any section of the society the right to take part in any work for the good of the country.
This year has not seen SU elections
Ikhwanweb: But some reported that the student elections this year have been free of any rigging.
Dr. Ezzat: These “some” don”t see the scene quite well. In Cairo University, 150 investigations were held since the beginning of the new academic year. Add to this, arresting students in a country whose officials raise banners of the freedom of speech while the ruling party-vetted students seize all seats in the elections although a few years ago these students were failing in front of Muslim Brotherhood students and others, so what happened? Has the NDP”s conduct dramatically changed and is accepted by fellow students? Are there foreign interventions that played a prominent role in helping the National Democratic Party monopolize every thing?!
In some universities, the students didn”t hear about any elections and a government-vetted student union was appointed in a way that provoked students. In other universities, names of all students- not only Muslim Brotherhood students- were stricken off election lists. In other universities, after the nomination was opened for elections in the first stage, names of all students were stricken off except for NDP lists. Add to this investigations held by various faculty boards against students over ridiculous charges, like receiving freshmen students with roses and chocolate and others were dismissed from classes from the beginning of classes, plus the measures that reflect how far these violations swell the freedoms file in Egypt. These violations start with denying constitutional rights like elections, through detentions including the latest detentions of Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Bar and Dr. Al Sayed Abdul Hamid and others, and ending with murder.
Hundreds of students were dismissed from their universities, while hundreds others were banned from entering dormitories despite their distinguished academic performance and their right to live there since they are coming from outside the city of the university. Investigations are still taking place and students are awaiting punishments.
Tens of students were arrested and are still in custody. Moreover, security services employed thugs to intimidate students who do not belong to the NDP preventing them forcefully from participating in elections.
Initiative of Cairo University Students
Cairo University students submitted a respectful memo to the University president and staff, saying they are at the service of their professors for the sake of improving academic and social life inside campus. Being Muslim Brotherhood students, they said in the memo that they are going to abstain from their right to nominate themselves in any upcoming SU elections, and will only participate in a single committee. If the regime considers their participation in the Union has political aims, then they will only take part in social activities in campus through providing cultural and social services to their fellow students. The answer was a rejection of the memo. Security services obliged the University President not to meet the students, and the president”s secretariat declared the President”s rejection of the students” initiative.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood students will never be swayed from continuously seeking hard work for the progress of their country and to take part in reform. Although they are crucial, the student unions aren”t the only means for reform.
Organization of satellite channels
Ikhwanweb: Regarding the detention of Dr. Al-Bar and Dr. Al Sayed Abdul Hamid, some say these detentions are a message to the group indicating that the security service is on alert to its movements.
Dr. Ezzat: Under the current regime, the detention of innocent citizens and violating privacies is no longer justified. Actually I want to ask those who detained Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Bar: What has this great scholar committed to face such a detention? Are the regime and its services devoted to fighting scholars?
There is an even more flagrant example: detaining Dr. Al Sayed Abdul Hamid, the former member of the People”s Assembly, who got a court ruling from the Criminal Court ordering him released. This enraged the Interior Ministry that issued another arrest warrant, the second in less than eight months. What has this former MP committed? The sole charge was that he hosted a number of his students in his house. His house was stormed and he and his students were detained. Then, they were released but his detention was prolonged despite his critical health condition. He suffers from acute inflammations in hemorrhoids and a continuous bleeding from the anus. Instead of undergoing surgery, he was moved to Al-Mahkoum prison and he has never been hospitalized so far, calling to mind the incident of the regretted death of Akram Al Zohairi who died in the police prison truck due to negligence or to be accurate due to insisting on negligence.
The detention of Dr. Al Sayed Abdul Hamid caps the pileups of violations in Egypt. He is former Member of Parliament. He had had prominent stances in issues of exporting wheat, freedoms. He was among the group of MPs who exposed the file of torture committed by the Interior Ministry and submitted an interrogation against the Interior Minister. Instead of protecting him, accounts are settled after he quits parliament.
Ikhwanweb: The case records of dr. Al Bar show that he was attending an organizational meeting which they called “Organization of Satellite Channels”?
Dr. Ezzat: He was in a special workshop which was suddenly labeled by the police as an organization affiliated to the group. They dubbed it “The Organization of Satellite Channels”, what satellite channels? Any establishment has an editorial policy and a media organization. To turn this into an organization and to accuse the group of attempting to penetrate satellite channels is unreasonable.
In fact, what scholars are facing is serious. They have previously accused Dr. Abdul Hayy Al Faramawi, Islamic Studies professor, of manufacturing drones, and they accuse Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Bar, a professor of Hadith, of organizing satellite channels. No one believes such accusations. Even if this were true, what change shall they introduce to these channels?
I think all the case records are only State Security Police investigations, in repeated attempts to drag the group to cases we got used to. Such cases end in nothing because they are based on ridiculous accusations that reflect the deteriorating status of freedoms in Egypt: Security reports which have no basis on the ground.
Ikhwanweb: Does this mean that you are pessimistic towards the future of Egypt?
Dr. Ezzat: I am not pessimistic. I only fear that the situation collapses. Social relations- the safety valve in the society- are faltering due to economic collapses and political fallouts. People in power should read the sexual harassment scene at Al-Mohandeseen in a different way. It is not merely a moral incident as it caps concerns over the future of the Egyptian social fabric as the crime rate unprecedentedly increased, and kinds of this crime horribly varied. Therefore, the regime should ponder and weigh Egypt”s political, economic and social situations. There should be a real approach that aims at stopping this danger after the citizen”s safety at home and in the street has become at the stakes due to the lack of social and criminal security for the sake of political security.
This can be proved by many studies carried out in this regard. Criminal and social crimes account for 95% of the crimes committed in Egypt while the political crime accounts for only 5%. 95% of the Interior Ministry”s budget is allocated to the political security and the remainder is allocated to social security.
The MB Is Ready to Cooperate with the Regime
Ikhwanweb: Is this the only solution: That the regime weighs its actions?
Dr. Ezzat: If there are real intentions followed by real measures to stop the collapse that Egypt may face, it will do. The regime will in this case stretch its hands to everyone to save everything, giving a priority to public interests. At this time, it will be different because everything will be called on to take part, unlike what is happening now.
Ikhwanweb: Does this mean that the Muslim Brotherhood is ready to cooperate to save whatever it can?
Dr. Ezzat: We have previously stretched our hands but, unfortunately, the regime didn”t respond. The regime should reconsider it. Some members of the regime refuse this and fear they may lose their positions and seek personal gains regardless of any possible fallouts at all levels. This can be reflected in this escalation against the group, an escalation that includes the unjust military trials against Muslim Brotherhood leaders topped by Khairat el-Shater, the second Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with a group of the best citizens of this country. Their only guilt is that they love Egypt and work to support it with their economic projects and academic positions. The regime arrested them and gave a deaf ear to court rulings ordering them released and referring them to a military court which sentenced them to 3, 5, 7 and ten years in prison. This is a severe injustice. However, and because we work for the service of this homeland, we are quite ready to stretch our hands to everyone to save Egypt from the current and long ordeal which entered a dark tunnel.
Ikhwanweb: Do you see that the regime is ready to welcome this reconciliation?
Dr. Ezzat: The regime should do this. The Egyptian regime in particular and all ruling regimes in the Muslim world in general should realize many key facts if they seek good for their homelands. These facts are:
-The Muslim Brotherhood will not abandon its Da”wa whatever the regime”s tyranny and oppression.
-The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt realizes that to rescue his country, all national powers and all noble citizens should cooperate regardless of belief or partisan or political affiliations. Therefore, we stretch our hands to everyone.
-The Muslim Brotherhood trusts its Da”wa and is sure that this Da”wa will save this country and will rescue all Muslim countries and realize security and happiness to all mankind.
-It is to the interest of any regime to reconcile with its people because the international powers that show enmity to our countries are busy solving their problems, especially after the current financial crisis.