Do you expect an escalation will be triggered by Egypt 's ruling regime against the MB in retaliation for their participation in such a campaign? Does the MB's participation mean they will politically support Mohamed ElBaradei if he decides to run in the upcoming presidential elections? What type of relationship is perceived between the NAC and MB in the present and future? Is the campaign a response to the failure of any of the Brotherhood candidates to secure seats in the 2010 Shura Council mid-term elections or is it purely an attempt to pressure Egypt 's ruling regime ahead of the forthcoming elections?
These and other questions presented to Dr. Rashad al-Bayoumi, Deputy Chairman for the Muslim Brotherhood, in an interview as follows:
Ikhwanweb: Why did the MB join the campaign demanding change known in the media as ElBaradei's demands?
Bayoumi: The demands have been approved and agreed upon by all political powers. Since the Muslim Brotherhood has always advocated reform, it was natural to participate in the campaign. The MB calls on the Egyptians to adopt these demands as a gateway to the desired political reform. The MB have constantly urged for changes, in fact dozens, even hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members, have been arrested for this cause and the call for constitutional amendments during demonstrations calling for political reform and judiciary independence.The demands include:
Amending articles 76, 77 and 88 of the Constitution as soon as possible.
1. Ending the state of emergency
2. The empowerment of the Egyptian judiciary to supervise the full electoral process as a whole.
3. Control of the elections by local civil society organizations and international levels.
4. Providing equal opportunities in the media for all candidates, especially in the presidential election.
5. Enabling Egyptians abroad to exercise their right to vote in embassies and consulates in Egypt .
6. Ensuring the right to stand in presidential elections without arbitrary restrictions in line with Egypt's obligations under the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, and limiting the right to run for the presidency to two terms.
7. Elections by individual identification social numbers
In his initiative for reform at the Journalists Syndicate, former MB Chairman Mohamed Mahdi Akef demanded change and the Muslim Brotherhood deputies have also demanded it inside the parliamentary dome and abroad. It was therefore only natural that the Muslim Brotherhood participate in such a campaign.
Ikhwanweb: Some observers believe that the Brotherhood's announcement to join the campaign came in response to the poor results of the Shura elections.
Bayoumi: These are groundless allegations and there is no connection between the Shura election results and the campaign. The regime has demonstrated it has no intention for political reform hence the notion to initiate the petition. The continued violations by the regime targeting political opposition in the form of military tribunals, unjust arrests and indefinite detentions demonstrate the authority's true intention for monopolizing authority and no real effort for reform. The call for change and the petition are not affiliated with the election results however the call has been induced in protest to the regime's policy of quelling freedom of speech and participation in all elections including Shura, Parliamentary, Trade Union, Club, and Student Councils
The system continues to endorse such measures as torture which is a breach to the constitution and continues to be imposed as a result of the 'emergency law' which has been in force for over 30 years. The latest victims include 28 year old Khaled Saed who died as a result of police brutality and the 18 year old who had attempted to escape police torture falling out of the 4th floor window at the police's headquarters.
Ikhwanweb: Does the Brotherhood's active participation in the campaign mean they will support ElBaradei if he decides to run for presidency?
Bayoumi: ElBaradei is an honorable and honest man; he has not however announced his candidacy for the presidential election. In fact any such talk is premature, as the current stage requires cooperation among parties with the principles advocated by ElBaradei, the Brotherhood and all political powers before him.
The campaign is not limited to aspects of elections in fact it calls on numerous issue and elections is but one aspect of the whole picture. Vote-rigging, suppression of free speech, continuation of the state of emergency and torture are all very serious threats which have exceeded the limits of decency and what happened in the recent Shura Council elections is a disgrace to the people and the ruling regime. The regime must be on the alert because degradation will inevitably lead to the collapse of the NDP and the whole country.
Ikhwanweb: If so, what are the reasons behind the delay in kicking off the campaign?
Bayoumi: The MB is committed to seek the opinion of the Executive Bureau and once the procedures had been completed, we kicked off the campaign launched by MB Chairman Dr. Mohamed Badie. All MP MB 's, politburo members and the Brotherhood mass will actively take part in it.
Ikhwanweb: A number of media sources discussed a memo sent by younger MB members who abstained from taking part in the petition before obtaining assurances from ElBaradei ahead of commencing the campaign what is your response to this?
Bayoumi: Some journalists' publicize false and groundless news. I assure you that the younger MB members trust Badie's leadership and we are always cautious before taking any crucial decision. When the Brothers visited the NAC's headquarters and met with ElBaradei, it was necessary they discuss all matters carefully since they are discussing sensitive issues of national security. The Brothers have stressed to ElBaradei they will defend rights and when they believed he was serious, they joined him.
Ikhwanweb: Have you received any objections in this context from the younger Muslim Brotherhood members?
Bayoumi: I personally have not seen the message they are talking about, nor do I think that the MB Executive Office or any of its affiliates have received any memos on this subject. I want to point out that the young MB's are just as conscious and keen to protect the nation's interests, and are confident in the MB leadership, and recognize that its' leadership is keen on the interests of each individual within the movement.
Ikhwanweb: What is the expected number of signatures for such a campaign?
Bayoumi: We have not set a bar for the campaign and if we are able to collect 80 million signatures, I think it will be good so that the system view that people really want changes. It is significantly necessary that the MB and other Egyptian political powers interact positively for the success of the campaign.
Ikhwanweb: Some believe that the vigorous Brotherhood's participation in the campaign means they have entered a hornet's nest and failed a diplomatic tug-of-war between the two?
Bayoumi: The Present regime does not commit itself to a tug of war as it does not give the opportunity for any constructive dialogue. The Brothers have tried repeatedly to join forces to save the country, but with no avail
Ikhwanweb: Is there a common interest between the Brotherhood and ElBaradei that prompted the two sides to join forces? Do the Brothers want ElBaradei to put in a good word for the MB especially as he is well-known and highly respected internationally?
Bayoumi: As I have mentioned earlier that he is an outstanding international figure who earned our respect and appreciation but we are not attracted to his personality but his principles. I think that ElBaradei was fair when he announced in more than one place at home and abroad that anybody who wants to be an effective element in Egypt must combine forces with the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. ElBaradei is fully aware that the movement is a force to be reckoned with, and we respect ElBaradei, and we respect any individual calling for such noble goals the MB has always called for. Thus, the MB must engage in talks with him as we did with former Prime Minister Dr. Aziz Sedqi until his death.
Ikhwanweb: There is an ongoing crisis between Dr. ElBaradei and members of the National Assembly for Change and the differences are increasing daily; in fact it coincided with the Brotherhood's accession of the campaign to collect signatures backed by NAC members, including Dr. ElBaradei, will these differences affect the success of the campaign?
Bayoumi: There is no doubt that there are differences between members of the Assembly and Dr. ElBaradei and the Brothers role is to combine all the efforts and agree upon non-controversial points, such as the seven demands. Everyone should be aware that these differences pose a great threat and must end to achieve the desired objectives.
Ikhwanweb: Is there mediation from brothers for reconciliation between the two sides?
Bayoumi: We remind both sides on all occasions that the Assembly's unity lies in the coordination and cooperation as their unity represents a message to the Egyptian people to support their demands. Setting aside of differences is vital for the public interest.
Ikhwanweb: What is the MB Deputy's message to the Brotherhood masses and the Egyptians on the campaign signatures?
Bayoumi: I call on all to positively interact and exert pressure. When we collect a significant number to demand change and support it will reflect the people's willingness to change by all means. The MB beseeches honorable men to positively take part and to invite his brothers, friends and loved ones to participate in this campaign for the country's progress and welfare.
Ikhwanweb: How can we deal with the Egyptian citizen's fears and obsessions?
Bayoumi: We must recognize that if this fear prevails among the Egyptians, we will not accomplish positive progress, and there are sacrifices paid for reform to take place. We will remain prisoners to all types of torture, oppression, injustice, humiliation and dominance of tyrant rulers if we fail to overcome our fear.
Ikhwanweb: Is this campaign a test of the MB's popularity in the eyes of Egyptians?
Bayoumi: The MB does not think about this as it is confident of its popularity. Therefore when we decide to make a decision, we put public interest in the foreground because it is their interest that will lead us to reform and change.
Ikhwanweb: These signatures are not formally adopted and have no official status, and therefore, some see it as fruitless.
Bayoumi: We want suppressed people to prevail and our goal is to uproot the people's distress. If only 3 million out of the eighty million people join us, we may then have great influence and make change.
Ikhwanweb: Finally... Will there be further development if a certain number of signatures is reached to organize a general strike, widespread civil disobedience or anything else?
Bayoumi: There are no specific mechanisms beyond the success of the petition; without doubt, actions speak louder than words.