Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Undeterred
– The Interior Ministry set the election date on the day of my release
– I have a 11000 votes margin above the NDP candidate
– I managed to escape tight security intervention for only 3 hours
– My platform: Expanding residential cordon, pure water, extending sewerage network
Since the Interior Ministry set Sunday July 13 a date for holding the complementary parliamentary elections in constituencies of Al-Manshiya and Al-Gumrok in the southern governorate of
Ikhwanweb: elections which will be held without a complete judicial supervision and days after your release from a months long detention, why haven”t you taken the decision to withdraw?
Al-Banna: First of all, we have a reformist agenda. Our aim behind running for elections is to achieve this reform. This requires meeting and interaction with the public. It isn”t wise and it isn”t the best solution to withdraw.
Despite lacking equal opportunities due to the absence of complete judicial supervision, I still think that withdrawal is not a solution for the problem. We will continue our campaign using the available resources and will never give in.
As for the period of detention, I was released from Wadi Al-Natrun prison on Thursday July 3, 2008, and was officially notified of the date of the elections on Saturday July 5. This actually meant lacking the required time for preparation and campaigning, plus around the clock tight security harassment by four security officers, who have been staying in front of my house since I was released from prison.
In spite of all these obstacles, we will never give in and will do our best and do our duty till the last moment, making use of all available resources. We are currently considering filing a lawsuit calling for canceling the elections due to the lack of the complete judicial supervision which was available in 2005 elections, and which denies non-NDP candidates equal rights.
I entered the runoff elections in 2005 after I won 21000 votes while the NDP candidate won only 9000 votes.
No Concession, No Withdrawal
Ikhwanweb: Have you faced any pressure to declare defeat or withdraw?
Al Banna: I have already faced many pressures along with other candidates who ran for the first round of 2005 elections. I knew that 13 independent candidates have withdrawn so far due to facing huge pressures from the security forces.
Ikhwanweb: What are the most serious harassments you have faced since you declared running for the complementary elections and started campaigning?
Al Banna: I have faced fierce pressures from the security forces. We are denied all forms of campaigning. We are also watched around the clock by dozens of detectives, plainclothes police officers, cars and bikes. We are also denied the right to hold campaign rallies under the claim that rallies must be held in closed places, and that we must obtain a permit to hold rallies- we were also denied such permits due to the security pressures on any place we plan to rally in. More than 100 of my campaign organizers have been rounded up after participating in a rally held two days ago, 38 of them were detained 15 days and were sent to Burg Al-Arab prison. We are also prevented from hanging any campaign signs. If hanged on walls or streets, these signs are immediately torn out and those who hanged it are chased. This makes me wonder: Does the regime seek free elections under such choking atmospheres?!
Ikhwanweb: If the atmosphere is suffocating to such a degree and there are huge harassments which are already practiced against you, why do you insist on such a headache?
Al Banna: As I stressed at the beginning, we have a message and we will never retreat. We will continue till the end whatever happens. They block campaign rallies and marches and tear our signs, but they can”t keep me in my house. I have managed to flee the tight watch of the security services for 3 hours during which I went to state companies like: Dessouk Madarb co., the veterinary and agricultural authority, the Irrigation District, and the Education Department. The policemen reached the place only after I left it. I called on people to show solidarity and to close ranks and unite to fight corruption and passivity.
The cost of freedom
Ikhwanweb: With the absence of a complete judicial supervision over the elections and with the vote fraud and rigging and bullying committed in the recent Shura Council and Municipal elections, do you still want people to take part in the vote although they may risk their safety in front of security services and thugs?
Ikhwanweb: We will urge people to go and cast votes because all these actions will never intimidate us and we will never allow these actions to disappoint people. We want them to be positive whatever happens, as I not alone shouldered with the task of reform. All people must close ranks to attain this key demand. Peoples in countries all over the world take part and move to reform and confront corruption. This movement for reform may have its toll all of us are obliged to pay the cost of this bid for reform. All of us are in one single ship which, it it sinks, will take all, not only me, the Muslim Brotherhood. All will sink unless all of us take part in the reform.
I still urge people- who are very aware of this- in my campaign stops to take part in the by-elections. They have even asked me this very questions and I replied that all of should take part in reform to end current injustices and corruption, and I stressed that Egypt is the homeland for all of us and that we should participate in reforming it, at least out of their interests.
Ikhwanweb: Could you please outline some positive results that residents of the constituency will benefit from if they take part in today”s vote?
Al Banna: There many positive results, including: Activating people”s positivity, not accepting current situations without moving to change or reform them. Also, we want people to see through their eyes the sabotage and harassments committed by the regime in their country and to see by themselves these disadvantages and violations of a regime that claims adhering to freedom and democracy. When people see polling centres closed by the security forces, when they see the flagrant vote fraud and rigging, they will realize how far the situation is serious. This realization will not be attained if every citizen stays at home.
However, I do not want this to increase people”s frustration. I want them to be-like us-aware of the serious situation in order to motivate us to change and reform. Some peoples feel the pains of the tough living conditions and the bad economic situation but they do not move to change of this reality!!
As for the positive results that we-preachers and reformers-attain through running for elections, we seize the opportunity of elections to mix and interact with people and show our reformist view and method.
Ikhwanweb: Regarding the National Democratic Party”s candidate facing you in this race, do you have a real chance to compete, let alone win?
Al Banna: If the requirements of a real competition are available, I confirm to you that the NDP candidate will fail. The proof is the result of the first round of the 2005 elections in my constituency, may win margin was 11000 votes over him.
However, there are may premeditated plots. The NDP candidate Major General Tariq Selim is still inactive and his campaigning lingers as if he ahs been promised a win and that he needn”t do much campaigning. Even the campaign rally he held in the village of Shabbas Al-Shuhadaa was restricted to meeting a few number of people in a house in the village.
Dessouk ..The city capital
Ikhwanweb: Regarding the constituency of Dessouk, of the second city capital of the governorate and its biggest business, industry and agriculture hub, what are your plans for it as candidate for this big constituency? What can you add as a candidate for it?
Al Banna: Dessouk is a business hut that bustles with life. It has a commercial, industrial and religious weight as it includes the famous Ibrahim Al Desouki mosque. The constituency consists of the city of
To give more detail, the city of
Also, the city”s northern area is linked with its southern area with only the torn out bridge of “Hara Dahroug”, presaging a disaster unless there is an intervention to renovate it. There is also a sewage purification station which was kicked off on Dessouk – Kafr Al-Sheikh road with a 30 million pounds budget but work in it stopped as off 1993.
I would like to say that this service role isn”t the only required role from a member of the People”s Assembly. There are more serious roles: supervision and legislation in the Assembly. As we want to protect interests of this country, we will work hard to propose everything to its interests.