Libyan MB Chairman: We seek Civil Society-Inspired Reform
|Saturday, July 7,2007 08:31|
|By Mohammed Aly|
The strict dictatorial policy adopted by the Libyan regime makes it difficult, nay, impossible for one to get information now that the Libyan people is denied access to it in spite of the information and technology revolution .So our website conducted this interview with Eng. Suleiman Abdul Kader the Libyan MB chairman who stays in London like any other Libyan opposition figure.
Q: How was the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood created?
A: The Muslim Brotherhood "s ideology made its way to Libya through Egyptian teachers who belonged to the group in Egypt as well as some Libyan students who went to study in Egypt where they were influenced by the Ikhwan" s ideology and visions for achieving independence of the Nation, helping it to assume its once leading role among the nations. One of the factors which helped the entry of the Ikhwan "s ideology into Libya was the immigration of some group members to Libya in the fifties finding in Libya a safe haven from repression they came under at the time. Those Ikhwan émigré had a great influence on the Libyan society through their social, cultural and missionary works. Their activities did not take the form of an organization, rather, it acted as a popular current aiming to spread awareness among the people in general and the youth in particular. These activities gradually grew and spread until the year 1967 when a committee for leading the Ikhwan movement was formed, among its members were deceased Dr. Amr Khalifa Al Nami, Sir Abdul Karim al Gahani . This committee continued its leading and guidance role until 1973 when all activities of civil society and parties were banned and nearly all activists from various political spectrums were detained , including communists, Ikhwan , Baathists and Hizbul Tahrir party. They all came under savage tortures and imprisonment , and the Muslim Brotherhood leading brothers were forced to publicly appear on a TV program announcing the dissolution of the MB in Libya. In spite of all these clampdowns, physical liquidations, revolutionary courts and other freedom restricted measures, action continued albeit in a secret way until the year 1998.
Q: What are the bases of the Ikhwan"s ideology in Libya?
A: Islam is our point of reference and an inclusive way of life ordained by God to be guidance and mercy for all people and help them establish freedom, justice, and equality. Through the doctrines of Islam, we seek to creat the civil society in which the nation is the source of authority, where justice will be the very end of the rule, and shura (consultation) is adopted in all the nation "s affairs without any individual or party monopolizing power.
Q: How is the relation with the Libyan regime, and is there a ligitmte organization for the MB in Libya?
A: Ever since the government issued a law in1973 incriminating partisanship, the MB leaderships have come to be under clampdowns and apprehensions, with many of the brothers died in prisons and detention centers either under torture or through the secret execution operations carried out by the regime. We even lived a period in which merely belonging to Muslim Brotherhood was of the most serious charges which could lead to execution or death under torture or detention. The biggest campaign against us was in the summer of 1998 which led to the arrest of over 150 of the MB members and the immigration of many others. As regards the group, it continues to adopt the peaceful means in action and has called for freedoms and spreading the civil society culture, out of the group"s concern to keep the nation away from bloodsheds or waves of violence. We have always called for dialogue and respect of human rights, reviving the role of society, rule of law, and drawing up a constitution which regulates authorities and stand up against the regime"s despotism. We say clearly that we work for reforming our country while adopting the peaceful means which we see will protect the society from domestic turmoil which could arise due to extrajudicial measures in Libya. As a result, no organization is allowed, either declared or not
Q: How do you see Ikhwan in Libya ?
A: Ikhwan does exist in Libya and its members are known more through their methodology and activities. The best testimony to their presence is their charity efforts for the orphans and needy, the patients in hospitals and students in schools and universities, without any media hype or banners to work through, except that God only knows. We are sure that we follow the right path, however, we are keen to reconsider our mechanisms as to how far we react with the society, doing so out of our concern to take part in development and prosperity of our nation, seeking help from God. As regards the organizational aspect, the Ikhwan has no organizational entity within Libya, but our moderate way of thinking does exist strongly among the Libyan people
Q: Why there is no a genuine opposition to the Libyan regime ?
A: As regards the organizational aspect, the extrajudicial laws ban the existence of any political entities except the revolutionary committees movement, which why a public opposition does not exist. But as regards activities and criticisms to the regime, the best testimony of it is prisons and detention centers, where thousand of Libyans have many accounts to tell , and who were forced to into mass immigrations to escape the hell of detention. Undoubtedly the tough security grip and the extrajudicial laws reinforced by free hand given to the regime agencies to clampdown on the reformists and advocates of freedom play a main part in silencing voices and at the same time widen the gap between the people and the regime, pushing the youth toward violent reactions .
Q: Some say that you are only a lip service opposition rather than a real one?
A: First of all we Muslim Brotherhood do not oppose for the sake of opposition . Rather, we are a reform group which takes its role and mission from the eternal and clear cut doctrines of Islam, with prophet Mohammed as the paragon of the right practice of these doctrines .So we are for reform which is not the demand of the Libyan people only but the peoples of the entire region . Second is that our long standing practices on the land of Libya, in spite of the harsh sentences and hellish detentions which the group members experienced , only witness that we seek reform and freedom of the masses in this nation under the umbrella of justice and rule of law which respects human rights. Due to the continued clampdowns, we had to work in secrecy with our actions as the same and in the same peaceful means which included reforming the youth, extending social and charity services. Commenting on what you say, I tell you that any observer of the political map in Libya can easily see the Ikhwan omnipresence at all levels.
Q: Is there any coordination with the Libyan opposition, and does the Ikhwan have a role to play in this matter ?
A: We in the Muslim Brotherhood seek a reform inspired by civil society under the umbrella of a law which respects human rights, achieves independence of judiciary and regulates authorities , adopting dialogue as our very means to achieve these stated goals. Accordingly, our door is open before the sincere in our country who seek national reform in our country, and we do have channels with many of the sincere in our country.
Q: What is the status of the human rights in Libya ?
A: Libya witnessed tough times when atrocities and human rights abuses were committed including heinous tortures and executions in public squares some of them were carried out at the university compass in Tripoli and Beni Ghazi, and these heinous acts reached their worst in the mass killings in Abu Sleem detention centre where at least 1200 were killed , but in the recent years the status of human rights has come to rebound relatively especially the status of detentions and the recent release of hundreds of detainees , but this is not enough because we do not seek bettering the conditions of prisons and conditions of detention but we demand that these violations be halted through abolishing the extrajudicial laws and establishing freedoms of expression and issuing legislation aimed to improve the situation in general . An example of the decline of reform and change in Libya is that our brothers who were released had been earlier given tough sentences , which means that even the peaceful opposition is still incriminated , in addition that these brothers have not been reinstated yet.
Q: What is the real number of Ikhwan detainees in Libyan prisons ? And what is the reality behind the case the university professors who were given death sentences?
A: Let me highlight a very important matter, mainly that we do handle the issue of prisoners of conscience on human rather than ideological grounds, given that any prisoner of conscience is our fellow sufferer even we differ on this or that issue . what matters then is to improve the status of human rights in Libya for all the Libyan society . As for the number, I say that following the releases of last March, many of the detained members were released but we still have some brothers whom we consider missing and fear that they might by among the victims of the mass execution incident in 1996. As regards the MB professors in the Libyan universities, they were released last March, but after establishing the unjust rulings against them including two death sentences against Dr. Abdullah Ezz el Din and Dr. salim Bu Hanak, as well as life sentences against more than 70 group members . unfortunately , three months have passed since they were released and still they have not been reinstated .
Q: What is the group "s position toward the Bulgarian nurses accused of spreading IADS?
A: The victim in this case is the children who were injected with the virus of AIDS as the world turns a blind eye to their sufferings. The case is a humanitarian one with tragic repercussions , and these innocent children die one after the other , with the case leaving behind a tragedy within society. Of course our position is strong solidarity with those children and their families, and our demands are the same as that of any unbiased one, which we can sum as follows:
-A just trial where the victims are given reparations and the criminals are punished , with the Libyans rejecting any pressures from abroad .* Provision of lifelong due care to those victims .
- We highlight that the compensations given to these children are their rights rather than a gift or a charity . Q: What is Ikhwan"s vision on reform in Libya? A: We see that reform is the responsibility of all without any party excluding another, given that all of us belong to the same nation.
- We also see that reform must not be a tailor made prescription but rather one that affects and gets affected by the reality in quest of the right solution to the nation"s problems .So we, first and foremost, call for provision of a sound atmosphere giving all the citizens access to participation in building their nation , which we see materialize through the following
- Abolition of the extrajudicial laws which abuse human rights .
Giving free hand to the press.
Restricting the authority of the security agencies, with each of them acting within the limits of respect of human rights.
Drawing up a constitution which identifies the authority of each official body, secures separation between authorities and protects the citizen"s rights .
Empowerment of citizens to form actually independent civil society associations.
Release of all prisoners of conscience and provision of a just trial for all defendants.
Abolishing of all sentences in absentia against citizens in exile and allowing them to come back home without any preconditions. This is our vision for our hoped-for reform.
Q: What is the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood position toward the Israeli aggression on Lebanon and Palestine?
A: We announced our position early on, either through our own statements or through the joint ones with the other active political forces in the Arab and Islamic nation. We condemned the brutal aggression which targets the civilian facilities and noncombatant people. We also call for halting the aggression and urge the world , especially the Arab and Muslim governments, to stand up against this aggression, out of belief that the failure of repelling this aggression does not only leave the oppressed vulnerable to brutalities, but it also presages the end of justice and human rights as well as the international agreements and slogans which the world claims to raise and adhere to . We also warn that keeping silence over these atrocities consolidates the law of the jungle where survival is for the strongest. We also fear that keeping silent over these brutalities makes them an ordinary incident and the world will eventually get familiar with them.
Q: Much has been said of a new Middle East void of any resistance especially Hizbullah and Hamas. The latter is regarded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood to which you belong. It means that the coming days will witness attacks on the Islamic groups. How steadfast will the Islamic movements be against these challenges? And what is the future of the Arab regimes in the light of these challenges?
A: Any aggression or occupation is always countered by a resistance to repel it . So those who want the Middle East or any place to be void of resistacne have to stop aggression and injustice. Resistance of injustice and occupation is a right enshrined in all the Heavenly Religions and international laws and norms. On the basis of these principles, the Muslim Brotherhood advocates the right of people to defend themselves and repel the aggression. However, the group condemns the acts which target or panic the noncombatant civilians even if their governments perpetrate criminal acts. In short, this is the mainstream thought within the Muslim Brotherhood, regardless of difference or variation of statements or words. As regards a likely attack on the Islamic movements, we only have to hold fast to our values and principles even we suffer attacks for the adherence of these principles and values, saying as our predecessors said " For us God Suffices, and He is the best disposer of affairs" However, I believe that the Western countries are not exactly the same in terms of ideologies and ways of thinking, which means that some of them are unbiased and seek to stand with the oppressed . For those unbiased people and movements we say that the Muslim Brotherhood all over the world seeks to establish the civil society where the people should be the source of authority, a society where humans enjoy dignity and freedoms enshrined by laws and legislations. This is the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda, a straightforward one which is different from those with concealed political agendas disregarding all principles and values. To those who betray their nation we say that one can deceive some people for some time but no one can deceive all the people all the time. In other words, if any state however strong it is can suppress a specific group, it cannot suppress an entire nation nor will the nation keep silent over the brutalities perpetrated against its men, women and children as well as its land and civilian facilities. It means that the situations will continue to be unstable as long as the people come under injustice, aggression and humiliations. Concerning the future of the Arab regimes, we reassure the Arab governments that in spite of its so many agonies, the Nation is still able to stand on its feet and restore its power, and the history is the best testimony to these facts. We warn the Arab and Islamic governments that slogans and notions have been imposed on the region, which work against our nation if we don’t know what these terms mean. We even haven’t decided on a specific definition of terrorism, the new world system, the peace process and others. And now a slogan of a new Middle East was coined without the nation knowing exactly what it means and what its goals are. We remind the Arab and Islamic states of their responsibility for brining about pride and dignity to their nation, taking into account that this conspiracy targets invariably all the nation countries, and the only way to repel these plots is to close ranks both rulers and ruled. If a state is based on justice and powerful judiciary, legislative and political establishments, it will be a victorious one and reckoned with. The people will forget all their injustices and grievances if you rulers adopt a decisive and powerful stance for the nation’s crucial issues, but if the gap between you and your people continues to widen due to injustice and freedom restricting laws, the conspiracies against the nation will continue and the aggressions on it will not stop. Therefore, the only way out of all these problems is to start reforming our social and political flaws, seeing this as the top of all priorities.