MB did not exclude El Erian from Executive Bureau: Interview with MB Secretary General
Interviewd by: Shaaban Hadiya, translated into English from www.youm7.com
What is the cause of the latest debate over the Executive Bureau elections?
Ezzat: I think there is no reasonable cause for it.
But the group did not officially announce the date or results of the elections, where is the transparency you are preaching?
Ezzat: In 1995, we did not make the elections public because of the cases and detentions against 80 of our members, while 50 members –including myself- stood trial. The Prosecution accused me of winning in the Executive Bureau elections. Generally speaking, it is our right to practice Shurah and to hold these elections, as long as we work to the interests of this country through peaceful means. In spite of this, we faced trials. Thus, we fear military trials may be held after a while because of these elections.
Why was Dr. Essam El-Erian excluded from the elections, why were some members like Khairt El Shater sidelined?
Ezaat: Shurah (consultation) for us is above all a religious obligation. We will never act against this principle because it will then be against our religious beliefs. In Executive Bureau elections, all members of the Consultative Council are candidates; the candidate becomes a member in Executive Bureau when he obtains 50 % of the votes. The list of all members of the Consultative Council is a list of the Executive Bureau candidates. No one is excluded.
But some members of the Consultative Council were denied the right to vote, not only the right to be candidates?
Ezzat: We did not exclude any one. The full list was distributed. It is impossible for us to exclude any member.
It is hard for me to believe that Dr. Essam El Erian was one of the candidates, yet did not succeed?
Ezzat: Dr. Essam was in the list and garnered a big number of votes but he didn"t reach the quorum required to be a member of the Executive Bureau. These issues will not be useful for the press or the public opinion. I do not state the number of votes.
The election results reflected the dominance of the conservatives over the group, what do you think?
Ezzat: Such terminology needs reconsideration. The organizational or political work is a kind of obedience to God. We are required to perfectly work in them with such a balance and comprehensiveness throughout our lives. Some journalists and researchers view certain individuals from one perspective. I urge them to change this view. We have no such conservatives in our organization whose aim is to preserve its tenets. Our organization aims after all to serve a broader goal, our moderate Islamist agenda. Our vision of any organizational work puts this goal into consideration.
Are there any amendments in the bylaws of the General Consultative Council?
Ezzat: The amendments in the rules are assigned to a specific body. But there is no amendment so far in the rules or in the Consultative Council.
But there are conflicting statements over this issue from the group, especially on its official website?
Ezzat: What happened was that some misquoted us; merely professional mistakes from journalists themselves. We want truth to be sent to the readers and citizens.
Some accuse you and Dr. Habib of being architects of the latest changes in order to prepare the ground for electing the next Muslim Brotherhood chairman?
Ezzat: Some think that there are those who make plans and plots for the future, which is totally unacceptable and not found in the Muslim Brotherhood. We follow God"s laws. Whenever we establish justice and consultation and abide by Islamic ethics and study experiences of our predecessors in electing the MB chairman we will definitely reach a good result. The results of the MB chairman elections have always brought the most suitable persons.
Some see that the verdicts against El Shater and his fellow brothers in the group caused a state of confusion, is this true?
Ezzat: The regime has repeatedly sent Muslim Brotherhood leaders to military trials, detained and executed many without affecting the group which was undeterred by these autocratic measures. The Muslim Brotherhood will move in its path unaffected by military trials, detentions or even executions.
Does this mean that you are now seeking to preserve the organization by any means?
Ezaat: The organization serves a broader Islamist mission.
What about the reports that Youssef Nada mediates between you and Gamal Mubarak? What is your attitude towards the hereditary transfer of rule and nominating Gamal for presidency?
Ezzat: Nada did not mention any mediation in his interview. Our stance is clear, and was declared before by the Chairman. He said that we do not reject persons per se, we oppose actions. We reject corruption and tyranny. The situation on the ground shows that the Muslim Brotherhood maintains and insists on the method of reform. It is against chaos and supports maintaining state establishments.
You have been reportedly dealing arrogantly and indifferently with national powers in the past two years, how would you comment on this?
Ezzat: We always seek to reach out to political powers. This was translated into several successful works. Although I do not accuse political powers of causing any rift in these coalitions these political powers didn"t have enough steadfastness to maintain any joint coalition. Any meeting between political powers and the Muslim Brotherhood faces heavy pressures from the regime. While the Muslim Brotherhood always sticks to it, other parties and gatherings cause sabotage and rifts.
Why is there always an attempt to show that the religious part is your top priority before the political one?
Ezzat: Political work for us is a religious obligation.
Does this mean you confess that you use politics to serve religion and mix between the religion and politics?
Ezzat: I want to point out that in Islam there is no difference between politics and religion. We- the Muslim Brotherhood- love our country and are interested in its welfare. To reach this, we can"t choose between a political work based on Islam and a political work based on non-Islamic sources.
Does this mean that any reform must be based on Islam and religious source of authority, otherwise there is no reform?
Ezzat: The entire nation should work for this. Islam is for the Egyptians the religion of Muslims and a civilization for others. Any civilization should be based on this and the Egyptian constitution approves it. It is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the Egyptian people for a long time. I personally feel astonished when I hear that reform can be achieved without resorting to Islamic principles.
But the party platform did not confirm that. Besides, it completely excluded Copts and women?
Ezzat: The eternal texts of the Quran and Sunna, and the principles of Sharia will remain the major sources of legislation according to the constitution and the
What about women and Copts in presidency?
Ezzat: We do not change the Islamic rulings which are based on the consensus among scholars. Our political opinions are inspired from all aspects of life. We follow the opinion of the majority of religious scholars. What we offered in the platform were political issues which some people were keen on knowing our stances towards them.
Do women and Copts have the right to run for the presidential office, according to the Muslim Brotherhood?
Ezzat: The majority of scholars agreed that the highest office in the state cannot be run by a woman or non-Muslim. In other posts, we endorsed the easiest opinions. For example, there are those who say that a woman can be a judge, others say she can’t. We followed the first opinion. Some deny women executive posts (like the post of a minister), and others allow women to assume it; we approve that a women becomes a minister. We endorsed the easier judgments which will unify our nation.