First MB Deputy Chairman Dr. Mohamed Habib gave an interview to independent Al Maidan newspaper, in which he dealt with nearly all the status quo issues which encounter the movement .The interview is a significant one since it comes following the constitutional amendments which include articles that further impede the Brotherhood (Ikhwan) activities. This interview is also of significance not because of its explicit and bold statements only, but because these statements were made by the second man within the movement and the first deputy chairman, a weighty position no doubt. During the two-hour interview, the First MB deputy chairman assured that the movement is against violence in all its forms. He also said that revolutions are not a solution and that the MB does not crave for power for the time being, nor does it reject the Copts setting up a political party. He asserted that the constitutional amendments were a scenario tailored to consolidate for inheritance of power.
Q: How will the group react now that the constitutional amendments have been passed?
A: We do exist in the Egyptian street, and our presence is influentially felt in all aspects and areas of activity. I see that any attempt to impede the movement of the group and its interaction with the people would be a failure as is the case with other, previous attempts, and the nature must take its course.
Q: What is your comment on the recent referendum?
Like other civil institutions, we were monitoring and following up balloting in several places around the country, violations occurred, rigging and mass voting, moving voters from one governorates to another. It was found that turnout has not exceeded 3 to 5%. Fraudulent in official figures is very high and I think that people know that well.
Q: What steps you would take should Gamal Mubarak came to power?
It all depends, the issue is not over persons but rather they way to rule and treat people and the opposition. Is it going to be a real democracy based on peaceful exchange of power that sees the nation as the source of powers and the people have the genuine right to select their ruler? Are we cable of dealing with current political impasse and limited horizons? Could we have a free and transparent elections that express the free and real will of the Egyptian people? This is the real issue. The media campaign, arrests, referral to military courts as well as the constitutional amendments were designed to press for the inheritance scenario, which we frankly reject in form and content.
Q: Your talk about rejecting inheritance means you refuse Gamal Mubarak’s rise to power?
We reject any person to undemocratically come to power in Egypt or through oppressive and authoritarian means.
Q: What are the tools to express such rejection?
The tools are many including conferences, interviews with satellite channels, seminars, dialogue and communication with all civil community institutions and vital political powers at home. In brief, we contact with people in different domains.
Q: But the election and referendum experiment has proved their ineffectiveness.
We are asked to fulfill our duties and do our best but not to succeed as it depends on many other elements namely national concord and political and social move among all categories of people.
Q: A revolution?
No No Revolution … peaceful..
Q: Peaceful revolution?
There is no peaceful revolution. Revolutions open the door to chaos, corruption and evils. That is why we reject revolutions, where cards are mixed. We talk about political and social move that peacefully pressure the ruling party through constitutional and legal channels to get it to meet the reform dues. This means that if we could get the whole people to got to ballot stations and referendum. In this case we could say that we managed to hinder ….
Anything that might be imposed against the will or interest of the people.
Q: In your opinion… who is responsible for the current tension between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government. Is this related to the inheritance file, the anticipated Shura elections and constitutional amendments?
The ruling party, undoubtedly, is shouldering the main responsibility for the ongoing tension in Egypt. It is the cause of the current political stalemate facing the Egyptian society due to its failure to compete effectively with other factions in free elections without violating the will of the people. Al these failures are the cause of the tension prevailing in Egypt. Who blew up political parties that have relative presence in the Egyptian street? Who is generally laying obstacles in face of parties in contacting masses through different means? The ruling party is behind all this.
Q: Do you consider launching dialogue with the ruling party?
Our hands are extended to all people, but I doubt that the ruling party has any desire to chat with people. Experiment is the best proof. Previously, it had talks with (opposition) parties for few month and it was a bitter one. They trapped in a blind alley. The ruling party wants to send a message abroad that there was a dialogue, move and contact with political powers in the society. A second round of dialogue took place. The parties called for constitutional amendments before the referendum but their ideas were turned down. They (opposition parties) conceded but Dia el-Din Dawoud refused demanding constitutional amendment before the referendum. They were astonished a week later as the President delivered a surprise speech at the parliament on February 26th 2005 calling for an amendment into article 76 of the constitution. This is the problem with the ruling party, it has no genuine or serious intention for reform. Thus, it does not extend its hand or open its heart and mind to deal with existing political powers in the society. Why this hesitation?
Q: When does tension between the Brotherhood and the state end?
principle, the two sides should have the desire to bring in a solution. We-thanks God- seek the interest of this country and its people but we feel that the government was and still doing us injustices.
Q: Examples of injustices
Q: Such as?
Since forties, fifties and early 95 till date. Is it reasonable to refer civilians to military courts? Is it reasonable to confiscate people’s properties and to turn political rivalry into a fight in daily bread? Is it imaginable to get a court ruling demanding an immediate release from the court room but the Interior Ministry detain them. This is unbelievable. Can we imagine cooperation and friendly spirit following the constitutional amendments, which turned the society into a big prison?
Q: Precisely, what are the alternatives available now for the Brotherhood to get out of the dark tunnel of its relations with the authority?
Our minds and minds are open; our hands are stretched for the interest of the homeland, faith and nation.
Q: Is civil disobedience, which the Brotherhood Chairman threatened, an alternative?
When talking about civil disobedience, Mr. Chairman stipulated to basic conditions. The first is to have a general accord among political and national powers, as the issue is not up to one political faction, category or part of the society to express a certain viewpoints. The second condition is to have general popular acceptance and satisfaction.
Q: Different political powers?
Off course. It goes without saying that if this to happen in face of injustice, dictatorship, corruption and oppression it would pay off.
Q: You mean that the group would not press for civil disobedience alone?
It is impossible and we could not do so unless a general accordance is realized as well as popular acceptance otherwise we are ploughing the sands.
Q: As for the Brotherhood Party, is it still up or just media propaganda?
Not for media propaganda. Mr. Chairman had made an announcement about the party manifesto. Any party should have three essential steps: the manifesto in terms of ideas, visions and concepts regarding different issues related to society such s foreign and interior policy. The second step is related to founders whether being brothers or common Muslims and Copts. The third step is related to the move toward getting legal legitimacy. I would like to assure you that we are in the final stages of preparing the manifesto and we have not reached the second step i.e. the founders. But Mr. Chairman has said that we would not apply to Parties Affairs Committee because it is the defendant and the judge at the same time thus it is unconstitutional. It is an obstacle rather than a facilitator. We have announced that we are not going to make a unilateral announcement of the party but rather wait until the party law changes to allow the freedom to set up parties upon notice and according to popular wish. Nevertheless, constitutional amendments came to further complicate the situation.
Q: What are main features of the party?
It is still in the making and it might finish soon.
Q: The group always says that it is against use of force to realize the aspirations of the people and apply Sharia (Islamic law) at home and among people. At the same time, the group says that the Egyptian regime does not want reform or accept peaceful power rotation. Then, how change could be made in light of your strict commitment to no escalation or violent confrontation. Is it long breath policy?
** (laughs) .. The idea is that we re against revolution and violence. Violence is unacceptable to us because it gives the one who possesses power and its tools the legitimacy to jump to power. The real bit is on the people because there is no power in the world ready to give up its powers or some of its privileges to the people. This is impossible. So, the people should move peacefully and through legal and constitutional means to extract their rights, restore freedom, and participate in making life. Without this, it would be impossible. Thus, our policy is a long breath policy.
Q: In a statement attributed to the group, it was understood that you are ready to back a non-Muslim candidate or a woman to compete for the presidency post. Is this statement accurate?
This is not correct.
Q: Then, what is the position of the Brotherhood group, if a Christian became a president?
As if all our problems are over and this is the only issue left.
Q: Do you accept a Coptic political party?
We do not consider our Coptic brothers a political bloc. They are citizens who have all the citizenship rights. Thus, they have the right to set up their party.
Q: What do you mean?
It means that they have their own faith and ceremonies but they do not have a political, economic, social or cultural system. Thus, if they want to set up a party they should adopt a system whether being a liberal, social, national or Islamic. We would say that the door is wide open for Copts to practice their rights in picking the reference they like for practicing their political life. Accordingly, we say it is better for them to have the reference of the state and the people and the whole nation i.e. Islam.
Q: Do Brotherhood leaders have a political action system and references such as Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi or what is the scheme you have?
We benefit from and seek all the ideas and visions of scholars in different fields, This is what is unique about this group i.e. it is open to others.
Q: Why do you are reluctant to have a special spokesman that expresses the group’s views without causing embarrassment?
We all talk.
Q: Is an official spokesman of the group considered a restraint over the Chairman’s opinion?
No limitation, the media is open and today’s horizon needs not only one spokesman but tens. However, in some instances, some media means distort a text or focus on a word in and thus deform the whole dialogue. We much value the Egyptian people because we are part of them.
Q: Do you practice democracy inside the Muslim Brortherhood Group?
Off Course, elections are held on different levels. Shura is carried out on all levels. There is no limitation over any idea, vision or project. Everything is up for discussion. After deliberations, Shura settles the issue in form of a political stance.
Q: But it is noticeable that there is no former Chairman only a demised one just like the presidency post in Egypt?
First of all, there is no lifetime Chairman. The statute stipulates a two six-year terms. We want to confine it to two four-year terms only so as to practice what we preach. The second point is that it happened that those elected to chairmanship were old-aged. For example, Mr. Maamoun al-Hodaiby was elected but died after one year. Late Mr. Mustafa Mashhour died at the beginning of the second term. Mr. Hamed Abulnasr died at the end of the first term and so on. Thus, we do not have lifetime posts.
Q: Does the Brotherhood as a goup adopt one clearcut policy and does not accept any other lines? and whoever dares to violate that policy would be dismissed such as the Wasat brothers “AbulEla Mady and his associates”?
Any group or institution should have agreement over ideas, methods and goals. There are political positions that could change form time to time. But we can not have two policies regarding the same issue. So, whoever wants to have a political stance other than that of the group, its Ok he is free. He is expressing his own views rather than that of the group. There is no institution that could ever say that someone is talking about a certain stance while another comes up with its opposite. Suppose that we decided to boycott the referendum but a group of people inside the group said “No.. this is not right”. Although both opinions were there and the two trends are there but we should discuss these ideas and their merits and demerits and finally we reach a unified position.
Q: Frankly speaking, what is your opinion of the Wasat party experiment?
** (laughs) No comment!
Q: In statements by Engineer AbulEla Mady, he said that Egypt’s borthers are belonging to the past and that our party would not turn into a forum for them. What is your comment?
The Brotherhood- thanks God- are distinguished with two basic features: the first is brilliant idea, approach and goals. And the second is brilliant organization. By so doing, the group managed to stand fast over decades and it would- God willing- keep standing any hits regardless their strength or aggressiveness. If one tenth of these hits is directed to any other group it would vanish and go with the wind. For all these reasons the group has spread in most world countries.
Q: You termed Al-Qaeda organization as “condemned and loser” and that it proved to be a failure in terms of Islamic fiqh (understanding), Sharia (Islamic law), experiment and practice, Why?
I do not remember that I said so, but I do say that our means does not authorize violence or force to take office. The second thing is that we condemn all operations committed against civilians who have nothing to do with the aggression on our faith, nation and countries.
Q: Former Undersecretary of the State Security Agency, Major Geneal Fouad Allam asserted in several occasions that there were links between the brotherhood and Al-Qaeda organization and that if they (the Brothers) ruled Egypt we would see 1000 Talibans?
** (laughs) Such a thing exists only in the illusion of Mr. Allam. I pray to Allah that he would soon recover from such fantasies. The other point is that Brotherhood has not taken over power so as to say that they would breed so and so.
Q: Mr Fouad Allam also asserted that Brothers were also involved into the assassination of late President Sadat?
All these are sheer lies and against our line all the way. Mr. Allam wants to distort that image of the Brotherhood and turn the public opinion against us.
Q: He also said that he himself escaped an attempt by brothers on his life.?
Impossible. Why(we have to do so)? Many people severely tortured brothers to death but the brothers did not touch them. They seek justice of Allah the Almighty.
Q: Chairman of Al Tagamoa Party Dr. Refaat El-Saeed described you as crooks?
Dr. Saeed could say whatever he likes and we have the right to reject that.
Q: What is your opinion of the political practices of Dr. Saeed?
Such practices are the main reason behind the deterioration in Al Tagamoa Party.
Q: Is the character of Dr. Saeed similar to that of (former Tagamoa Party leader) Khaled Mohieddin?
I do not think so. Off course there is a big difference between the two personalities.
Q: In what aspect?
In many aspects but there no need to detail them.
Q: What is your comment on referring leaders of the Brotherhood to a military court and a spy to civil one?
This is really astonishing. I regret that things could deteriorate to such an extent.
Q: What is your opinion regarding President Mubarak’s statements that Bortherhood is a threat to Egypt’s national security?
The threat to national security is manifested in the incessant emergency status, the absence of liberties, the dictator and oppressive means practiced by the ruling party against the people as well as oppression against opposition and exceptional courts and laws that strangle liberties. The real threat to Egypt’s national security is: the lack of true judicial independence, the rigging of parliamentary elections that reflect the will of the people, corruption that prevails in many municipalities and the constitutional amendments that turned to be a coup against the constitution, a violation of general liberties and individual rights, an undermining of the citizenship principles and power perpetuation etc.
If the president meant that the threat to Egypt’s security would occur should Bortherhood come to power, I would like to assure all the people that this issue is has not occurred to us and what concerns us right now is to restore liberties and rights to the people.
Q: Do you want to assure the people or President Mubarak?
We want to assure everyone the people, President Mubarak and political powers.
Ruling is a popular choice. The popular choice if made, nobody could stop it. So we are not preoccupied with ruling now. We are busy making the ruling a democracy.
Q: someone has stated in the Egyptian TV that Brotherhood was more dangerous than Israel in terms of Egypt’s security, what is your comment?
Unbelievable, to have such a thing uttered by a man who could think, contemplate and study what is going around him. I really regret that.
Q: How many political detainees among Brotherhood ranks?
Currently, there are 210 detainees.
Q: A few, isn’t it?
Yes. However, each of them is of heavy weight.
Q: What is your comment on a saying that Salafis are fiqh (Islamic understanding) without politics and the Brothers are politics without fiqh.
Salafis have their role. Nevertheless, it is more important that each one plays his role.
Q: It is noticeable that younger brothers are weaker in spiritual aspects if compared with earlier generation, what is your comment.
Generalization in such issues is not objective.
Q: Some thought that it was better for Muslim Brotherhood group to give Dawah (Islamic call) and social work a greater attention and little attention to political action till the group has a wide popular base that prevents the government from directing a backbreaking blow. So, (in their opinion), the group should reconsider the virtual weight of political action.
Both are important. There should be a balance and integration between this and that.
Q: In principle, was the Muslim Brotherhood group established to be a social Islamic call or a political one?
All this. It is a comprehensive Islamic call. Islam, as Al Banna says, is a comprehensive system that covers all aspects of life.
Q: Why political statements of Muslim Brotherhood differ from one country to another even regarding the same issue?
If this is true, it is due to the conditions and changes facing this country or that. The Problems and situations in Jordan, for instance, are different from those in Egypt. Likewise, conditions in Syria are unlike those in Sudan and so on. Thus, it is logical to have varied stances. Thus, it the affair and decision of the Brotherhood in this country or that.
Q: In your opinion, who is adopting a reactionary policy, the brothers or the government?
Q: If Brotherhood came to power, would they allow plurality in light of the presence of opponent parties and powers?
We are concerned with general liberties right now. We are occupied to the full with the political reform file. This file, I believe, is shared by all political and national powers and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.
Q: In light of economic restrictions on the group, is the group going to continue its activities in full swing or the material factor would affect it?
I would like to assure you that the money belongs to individuals, members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Surely, those individuals were extremely affected by the confiscation of their money and companies but- thanks God- the group is still functioning and the brothers are generous and their hearts are full of faith.
Q: What is your opinion of those who term the group as “banned”
It is banned in the their own minds. The idea is that, we are in the street and we have the historic, social and political legitimacy. No one could block the sun.
Q: What could you tell those who accuse the group of illegitimacy?
Whose legitimacy? Who owns the legitimacy? The people grant legitimacy to the constitution. And the people’s representatives extends legitimacy to the law. We have the legitimacy of the people who grant all forms of legitimacy.
Q: what is your vision regarding the coming presidential elections and you role as to them?
Wait and see!
Q: What is your comment on the stances of Sheikh Al-Azhar. Precisely, his political ones and his recent referendum fatwa (Islamic legal edict)?
This falls within concept of mixing up politics with religion and the vice versa. They did not ask themselves how they could prevent other from having their say, giving themselves, meanwhile, the right to have their opinion and fatwas in political affairs. It is better to have such visions and stances passed by the Academy of Islamic Researches. They would be more objective.
What about Sheikh Al-Azhar?
So as not to be a unilateral one.