Several news agencies have recently circulated reports speculating on the presence of dialogue channels between the British Foreign Ministry specifically and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. These reports also mentioned that several British diplomats had held talks on several occasions with Egyptian parliament members of the Muslim Brotherhood since the year 2002. IkhwanWeb had interviewed Mr. Khayrat El-Shater, the deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood to further explore the brotherhood’s reaction to mentioned reports in addition to his point of view on various other issues
IkhwanWeb: How would you respond to the latest press reports concerning contacts between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the British Foreign Ministry?
El-shater: This is not the first time such reports have surfaced, although they have been increasing in number after the parliamentary elections and the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as the main opposition power in Egypt. We have always been straightforward on this issue, and let me declare again, and for the records, that currently, there is no dialogue or contact between the Muslim Brotherhood and any western government in any form or shape.
IkhwanWeb: Does the Muslim Brotherhood see any prospects for dialogue with the West? And what will be the bases of that dialogue?
El-shater: We believe that the dialogue with the west is the ideal method to bridge the dividing gaps and resolve all grievances. In this regard, we welcome a constructive dialogue that promotes rapprochement among civilizations to avoid an imminent clash. It is evident that there are a few on both sides of the isle who are working to trigger a confrontation among different cultures and civilizations. Therefore, the ultimate humane interest necessitates that we reinforce dialogue and promote peaceful coexistence amongst people of different races, cultures, and origins on the bases of mutual respect and equality, recognizing the distinctive and private ethnic features which makes each culture unique and creative. The Qur"an says "And we set you up as nations and tribes so that you may be able to recognize each other" (Al-Hujrat: 13)
I sincerely hope this declaration will be sufficient to elaborate on the Muslim Brotherhood stance concerning the issue of dialogue with the west or the east and to prevent any further misunderstanding or confusion. We wish that any potential dialogue would result in strengthening the bonds among all nations and cultures so we can all live in a world free of violence or hatred
IkhwanWeb: Some of your critics accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of its anti western discourse, how would you envision such dialogue with the west if you promote an anti western agenda?
El-Shater: We do not promote an anti western agenda; on the contrary, we always extend our hands of dialogue to all, in order to elucidate our stance on various issues and in the context of serving the whole humanity putting into consideration each country’s unique conditions that might govern such dialogue. We hold no grudges against the people of the west in general. However, we object to certain policies by some western governments towards the Middle East, in particular, and the Muslim world in general as well as the rest of the world.
IKhwanWeb: Do you think that the events of 9/11 and the bombings of London and Madrid have added to the west’s suspicions of Islamic Movements?
El-Shater: We completely understand concerns and worries that some of the westerners might have toward Islamic movements. We must admit that these worries are sometimes used as pretext by the west to justify more violent reactions or even similar terrorist acts on a state level, which is mostly fed by a minority in the west who profit from spreading an atmosphere of hatred and disturbance.
IkhwanWeb: How would you sum up the Muslim Brotherhood stance on the cartoon’s controversy?
El-shater: We treasure freedom of expression as a basic humane instinct and as part of the overall set of the undivided and ultimate human values, which ensure respect to others including their cultures, beliefs, and sacred symbols in accordance with their own vision.
The western public opinion should understand the motives to the noble and peaceful anger by Arab and Muslim nations if their sacred rites are violated. On the other hand, Muslims should engage their societal problems with the same enthusiasm to achieve a comprehensive reform and create the unique humanitarian and civil model that reflects their true positive nature and sincere image in the world
IKhwanWeb: The Muslim Brotherhood has been leading the reform efforts in Egypt. Have these vigorous efforts enabled the group to reconcile its differences with the liberal parties and other secular civil entities in order to build a national unity?
El-Shater: Conservative reformers, whether from the Muslim Brotherhood or others, are indeed peace advocates and their political agenda is no different than any liberal party or civil reform movement especially when it comes to their focus on achieving political reform and economic development for their people as long as they all eventually respect the people’s explicit choice and their right of self determination. I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood have won a popular mandate after the last elections which requires us to continue to coordinate with all other parties and civil society institutions, regardless of their ideologies, for the sake of the country’s best interests.