Interview in al-Risala with Sherifa Zuhur: “The Mother of all Interviews” (the longest I’ve ever given!)
Q Luqman Karuvarakundu: Good
Are you the founder of Middle East research Institute [Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies]? I see it on FB
Is it an educational institution?
Note: al-Risala appears here. I have not been given a direct link to the interview, but enterprising readers may find it: www.risalaonline.com
Q Where are you living?
In Syria or Egypt? And where does this institute work?
A. Sherifa Zuhur: I have moved between Egypt and the US, in the last 4 years (prior to that at the US Army War College since 2004, prior to that at the American University in Cairo in Egypt) I am involved in some relief efforts in Syria and for Syrians elsewhere. The Institute was first located in Berkeley, Calif. But it has been a secondary activity while I was employed by other universities and also at the U.S. Army War College.
Q. (July 2,2013) Hello .how are you doctor
Please describe me briefly what is the main reason for revolution against Mursi?
A. Main reason is Morsi’s collaboration with criminals (sorry but that is true, see Prof. Nezar al-Sayyad’s post and a more respectable person could not exist) Also, non-inclusion and disrespect and just plain obstructiveness over the last year in the drafting of the constitution and disputes over the judiciary, the public prosecutor, the court cases about the treatment of protestors. The MB has behaved as closed club – retained its secretive movement structure as well as producing a political party and felt that its narrow margin at the polls was sufficient to maintain power. The small grassroots group Tammarud organized in April and called all of this into question. The Egyptian military are attentive to the protests and issued their own ultimatum and tomorrow we will see what they do!
Q. I will check your recent posts and article to understand what is happening there
Q (July 3) Oh! What you said yesterday that has happened [in Egypt]
A. Yes! We are living through an amazing time in history for Egypt.
Q .I just talked to our editor . He is very happy to publish the interview on this topic with you as the cover story of Next issue of Risala weekly
Q. Egypt’s first democratically elected president was overthrown by the military after just one year in office by the some kind of arab spring uprising that brought the brotherhood leader to power. What issues led to these acts of military?
And what was the motives that led people to Tahrir square?
A. don’t understand the part of yr statmeent “by the same kind of Arab spring that brought the Brotherhood leader to power.” Not at all a separate movement, but rather an effort to correct or return to the Jan. 25, 2013 revolution in which Egypt overthrew not only Hosni Mubarak but tried to overthrow the type of government he led with a huge dominant political party and almost absolute presidential powers. The military are not the actors.
Rather, a movement led initially by 3 young people began in April to ask for the Morsi government’s resignation due to lack of public confidence and for a transitional government to be formed.
They collected more than 22 million signatures and then with other political partners carried out protests on the 30th of June which were the largest demonstrations in recorded history. Many more than the petition signatories came out, there were reportedly more than 30 million demonstrating including many who had initially voted for Morsi, not as supporters but because there was no alternative on the ballot – only Morsi and Ahmad Shafiq, an official from the previous Mubarak government.
Q. Ok. Ok. The intention of my question is what kind of issues lead thousands of the people to tahrir squire demanding mursi’s resignation and for a new government’?
A. The military were concerned by clashes which began prior to the 30th of June protests and by President Morsi’s long and determined speech addressed solely to his followers.
Military began trying to negotiate with Morsi and the other side. Morsi however refused and they issued an ultimatum last Sunday. They also negotiated with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership for the possibility of future participation in return for sacking Morsi.
Q. You said , the people who voted for Morsi took part in recent demonstrations. Were the economica issues the major reason for these demonstration?
A. Which issues? First of all, more background. The Muslim Brotherhood was a religious and political movement started initially by Hasan al-Banna to try to provide Muslim youth an alternative to assimilation to Western mores and which was opposed to British imperialism in Egypt. It developed a secret unit which carried out assassinations and clashed with govt. Then, after the Free Officers ousted the monarchy of Egypt in 1952, the Muslim Brotherhood were not really allowed to participate as they wish. President Nasser exiled or jailed thousands. Many became quite radical and so the movement is identified with the aim of jihad and revolution expressed in other even more violent movements. But some agreed to relinquish violence and the MB were released from prison in 1971 by Sadat. They promised they would not become a political party. They tried to run as independents or in coalition under Mubarak for political office, the government repressed them harshly. President Morsi was in jail along with leaders of other radical movements in 2011 when a huge escape of prisoners took place. Since 1/25/2011, the MB formed a political party for the first time, the Freedom and Justice Party. But they did not disband their formal structure in the movement which is secret, does not allow women, and very hierchical. let me finish here and I will answer your next question and just a second.
The economy is just a secondary issue to the background I just recited. Due to the Egyptian government’s enmity with the Muslim Brotherhood and its tight organization and decades of survival as a political actor, it was the ONLY group ready for elections in 2012 . But many Egyptians grew up with the literature describing the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists who wanted to overthrow the regime. They are opposed to political organizations which would intend to tighten Islamic restrictions in the country and which call for greater application of the shari’ah. They greatly feared the MB but they did not want to vote for Shafiq and reinstate a figure just like Mubarak.
Q. Ok. So there was not a proper party to vote large number of people. That is why the voted to justice and freedom party?
A. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party said they would not impose stricter Islamic values, but in each debate in parliament that is what everyone heard. The most important battle and when all liberals lost confidence in the F&J and Morsi was over the drafting of a new Constitution. His party knows well how to pack each committee with his supporters and those who stood for a more open Constitution were sidelined. There were 81 members of the drafting committee, and liberals eventually quit in disgust.
The most debated articles were about Egypt’s use of shari`ah as the source of law; consulting al-Azhar as a main authority; an article which only recognizes Jews and Christians as minorities in Egypt (there are others); an article which people wanted to adopt to protect the rights of women etc. There were firestorms over the Constitution. Morsi basically said “I don’t care. It’s done. People will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ People had to vote yes in order for the next set of elections to occur.
So the Freedom and Justice Party used the structure and methods of the previous Mubarak government to enlarge its power.
A. Also, there are parties even more Islamically conservative than Freedom and Justice party and the President and F & J made various concessions to them. He recently appointed a new Cabinet and governors of Egypt’s provinces. People were furious about the appointees and called for resignation of several governors (Some resigned this week) The new governor of Luxor, Adel al-Khayyat was the head of the Gama`a Islamiyya, a mass Islamist organization which was responsible for assassinations of many govt. officials and judges, and also for a large group (58) of tourists killed in Luxor in 1997. Making this person a governor was very unwise.
A. Other complaints are – the lack of security, economic woes, not only of the poor, but of the workers, no gas, constant shutdowns of electricity. The lack of security is not entirely Morsi’s fault -but he didn’t do anything major to fix it as needed. The police and security of Mubarak had fled after 2011 (they’d tortured people and were afraid of being charged). So people face thefts and robberies and in the many demonstrations, violent thugs being paid would get involved.
Q. Ok -doctor . Please describe . I just take 5 minutes to take my maghrib prayer
A. The Freedom and Justice Party -and the Muslim Brotherhood say they support `adalah (social justice). This is interpreted as helping the poor. But people were angry that the deaths of revolutionaries from 1/25 went unpunished, about terrible attacks on the Christian population.
Morsi had a specific policy – called his Renaissance Plan. Was supposed to fix problems which affected all Egyptians. Bread, traffic, water, gas, other things. Did not do well.
Q. Ok. There is an another islamist party named Al nour who gained 27% of votes in the election.Al nour party impliment sharia in Egypt.
Even they got 27% votes
So is it mean that large number of people like an sharia based rule?
Also Al nour party oppose now MB and Mursi
What is the ideological clashes between them ?
NB, Perhaps i may ask questions disorderly. But i will write it orderly for our magazine
A. The failure of the MB is actually tragic. They had an opportunity but would not concede on major issues. And just wanted to finish that they are not doing well on the economic issues either. The state-owned industries are going broke, MB’s solution is to try and keep them running at half-mast and then sell them to private companies. Workers are scared this will happen. All over Egypt, some workers & employees fought for raises and got some. But prices also rose.
A. Now – the Nour Party. Egypt has many parties. Nour is just one of the salafist (salafi) parties. They would like to expand their voting base. Some who voted for F &J would probably support them too. But not the liberals who began the Tamarrod movement. The salafists are the most narrow and extreme in Islamic terms. They have clashed with the Shaykh al-Azhar and the Azhar establishment. They withdrew confidence from Morsi when they saw the huge size of the demonstrations and said they would support Army intervention and a caretaker govt.
On how religious, how much shari`ah?
This is complicated.
A. Egypt has a very strong civil (state) law tradition. Since there are approx 10% (maybe a bit less) Christians, it is important to have a civil law.
Family law – laws of personal status (ahwal shakhsiyya) are closer to shari’ah, but not strictly from one school.
Also many people in Egypt are extremely and traditionally religious, but they do not want shari’ah courts, and would rather the strong civil court system. (Note: In my husband’s home town, there is a system of qudat 3urfi – not shari`ah but the use of customary law via elders which rule on offenses and thereby undermine civil law)
The salafis and some of the MB strongly support a stronger imposition of shari`ah.
The liberals, many youth, many traditional, conservative, Muslims and of course, religious minorities do not support a stricter imposition of shari`ah.
The Nour Party (and other salafists) wants to impose veiling on all women. Nour and other salafist parties were required by Egyptian law to have female representatives running for office but they would not show their faces on their campaign posters.
They have supported a morals police something like the mutawa`in.
Other Egyptians hate this idea and are very angry about attacks by young people or salafists on couples walking hand in hand as has happened in Port Sa`id.
Egypt is engulfed in ‘culture wars’, which is something we see in other countries in the Muslim world, but they have up to now used a degree of tolerance of each other which allows them to survive the culture wars.
One thing that Morsi did was to impose a Minister of Culture from the MB and artists, the structure known as the Opera and symphony and all the writers carried out a long and noisy set of protests against him.
If you remember, in Iran, the govt. imposed Islamic standards on the arts. Egyptians – are for the most part, opposed to this kind of authoritarian Islamic governance, even though many ordinary people do not necessarily appreciate the aesthetics of artists.
Q. You mentioned about traditional and moderate muslim who dont to cooperate with MB and AL Nour party party. What about them? Is there a political party to them. How much number of them in percentage?
A. The other major player in Egypt is the Army, the largest army in the Middle East next to Iran’s. It receives more military aid than any country from the US except for Israel.
Since the fall of King Farouk in ’52, every President until Morsi came from the Egyptian military.
During the 2011 revolution, the Army (the strongest branch of the military) played a very important role.
It convinced Hosni Mubarak that the country would really explode if he did not step down and allow his #2 Omar Suleiman to take over.
The Army did not want to go into the streets and shoot down Egyptians opposing Mubarak. It refused the brutal role that the Syrian military has played for Bashar al-Assad.
It has its own housing, its own industries, its own retirement plan. And control over all of this was assured under Morsi.
The sticking point has been that the U.S. wants to make certain that Egypt sticks to the Camp David agreement with Israel and will not attack Israel.
A. Now, under the F & J and Morsi, some people thought there would be a review of that policy since many Egyptians actually oppose Camp David and never got to vote on it.
But actually Morsi cooperated with Israel despite many problems in the northern Sinai where there are fighting groups made up of jihadists and bedouin.
Ok..how was Mursi’s cooperation with palestine
This concern is probably at the heart of Pres. Obama’s rather negative and colonial statement towards Egypt, as if what happened was an Army coup. The Army and the 22 million signing the Tamarrod petition and the 8-10 million others supporting them feel that the Army has stepped in just to prevent bloodshed and will support a caretaker government made up of civilian technocrats as it (Gen. al-Sisi) announced.
The disputes have not been strictly ultra-religious vs. secular, nor strictly about poor management, but seem to hinge on the government (Morsi’s) ‘s failure to consult and move forward with others and not only the MB party faithful.
In fact, a Facebook page just opened up called Not A Coup
I don’t know if you can print this or not, but Gen. al-Sisi was a student for one year, here in Carlisle at the Army War College and in the Middle East regional course which I taught. He and his Army Chief of Staff (also here for a year) are both very religious Muslims and very disturbed by the occasional Islamophobic references at the college.
I think they were chosen for these top positions when they returned to Egypt because the previous senior officers were perhaps too close to Mubarak’s government.
Q. A Why was al Sisi positioned as the Egyptian defence minister changing the previous one
I mean positioned by mursi
Who wanted to resign hasan tantawi and sami hafez
A. I don’t think this is super important, but believe it was the decision of the Egyptian military and not Morsi’s decision. But on the other hand, may have been related to a Muslim Brotherhood leadership demand.
On 22 November 2012, Morsi issued a declaration purporting to protect the work of the Constituent Assembly drafting the new constitution from judicial interference. In effect, this declaration immunizes his actions from any legal challenge The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt, with protesters erecting tents in Tahrir Square, the site of the protests that preceded the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. The protesters demanded a reversal of the declaration and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. Those gathered in the square called for a “huge protest” on 27 November
Tantawi was too close and too strongly identified with the Mubarak regime. Also, at the time, it was thought that because al-Sisi was a religious person, he would relate better to the MB, but that, in retrospect seems to be untrue. The Army’s position is that it is a steward of the people. Must uphold principles of government and popular will and not a single man, whoever that man is as President. So if 30 million Egyptians come out and call for the end of the government, impossible for the Egyptian army not to respond, especially when MB supporters began to fight with the demonstrators.
(See some text in the question) What is the above copied from, Luqman?
On 22 November 2012, Morsi issued a declaration purporting to protect the work of the Constituent Assembly drafting the new constitution from judicial interference. Was this what led people to tahrir square firstly?
A. It points to 3 important issues – 1) the battle over the Constitution drafting process 2) the battle between Morsi and the Judiciary and 3) the dissolution of one house of the parliament
Hope you do not say “led to Tahrir Square”! The protests of June 30th and of 1/25/11 and all others were not only at Tahrir Square but all over the country. Journalists go to Tahrir square [but Egyptians demonstrate all over].
The answer is no – there was fighting about the content of the Constitution even before this.
A. But at this time, Morsi showed how he would respond. If Egyptians tried to use the electoral law or the judiciary to balance his powers, he would fight back.
I want to say that the battle w. the judiciary is very important (as in Pakistan w. Musharraf)
In Egypt, under Mubarak, the judiciary did not have very great powers and the syndicate (or union) of the judges tried to protest about this.
Eventually the Supreme Constitutional Court began to take cases and a few ruled against Mubarak (that an Islamist publication could not be closed by the govt.) Liberals were involved in defending the MB by using the courts.
But Morsi said that the Supreme Constitutional court were appointees of Mubarak and were like “remnants of the old regime” (feloul) – greatly insulting to some of them.
The revolutionaries of 1/25/11 and now in 6/30/13 want Egypt to have a stronger judiciary and legislature to balance the powers of the President. If the President’s own party dominates the Majlis al-Sha`b (People’s Assembly) and Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Assembly) or his party (F & J) plus salafists, then this is seen to be impossible. And if the judiciary is not independent, this is seen as impossible.
Q. An additional question about economic problems that you mentioned. Mursi negotiated with IMF to accept funds -did this provoke common people?
A. Not at all. Egypt has been dependent on IMF aid for many years. This is food aid. Poor people in Egypt survive because the govt. subsidizes certain products and cheap bread – oil, rice, tea, sugar, etc.
There were complaints from Morsi’s own party and some liberals because people feel that Egypt has become too dependent on food aid and the rich should pay more taxes to balance out. But the country desperately needed the IMF loan.
My brother-in-law made less than $200 a month after working for a state owned industry 28 years. His housing is paid for (a very old falling-apart flat) He supports 10 people on that when my other brother-in-law is not working.
The family relied on two sons who went to Libya on contracts to work (not high paid) and then my husband to the US – two of them send money to Egypt. Remittances like this are very important in Egypt and young men try to get out of the country but are unskilled and have a difficult time now. They used to go to Iraq, the Gulf, Libya mostly.
Q. you said about Tamarrod who collected signatures of people against Mursi government. Then who are the leaders of This moment. What is their ideology.
Tamarrud (means Rebel). They are young people – Mohamad Badr is just one. Grassroots movement, consulted with the old fox of politics, Mohammad Heikal and others. Made videos, circulated flyers and the petition. Obtained the 22 plus million signatures in a very short time … 2 mos. approx.
They want to see a government that does not shut out the opposition and which can compromise for the good of the Egyptian people. Their proposal is basically the same as the Army’s road map. I put up their First (official) Statement on my FB page couple of days ago. Can I scroll and look for a link on them for you?
Send me it later
A. The founders are anti-MB, and many signatories are anti-MB (but not all). As they are only ages 22 – 30, not likely they’ll be in the new govt. but maybe they will be or others in the movement. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/02/world/middleeast/egypts-young-activists-rouse-protests-but-leave-next-steps-in-hands-of-public.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
just a summary above When Tamarrod began, it was easy to dismiss it as another initiative of those dissatisfied with Morsi and the MB. However, the campaign was very successful.
Q. Ok. An additional question about MB’s and Salafist involvement in politics. How did respond their followers when they decided to come to active politics?
A. The Muslim Brotherood has been active in politics since the 1930s. Despite not being a legal party.
So maybe you mean since the formation of new parties after 1/25/11?
A. Neither Nour nor any other salafist party, nor F & J were sufficiently large e to run alone. Egypt has a bloc system for the election of lower house and most of upper house (some in upper house are appointed).
So Nour and M B had already expressed their rivalry and F & J (as the party expression of MB) moved into a different bloc which also has several tiny parties. Nour is in the salafist bloc.
For the Muslim Brotherhood it is quite complicated. The old guard govern the MB itself and also its world leadership and as you know it has a strong relationship to Hamas, Ennahda, the MB of Syria, the MB in Jordan etc.
But there were some youth movements of the MB and they participated very actively in the 1/25/11 revolution, communicated with other non-Islamist movements and at times clashed with positions of the old guard and the F & J.
Freedom and Justice had to create party lists for the parliamentary elections – showing a hierarchy of its preferences and a priority for its platforms and priorities. All difficult as the legitimacy of the parliamentary election was disputed and one house dissolved.
Some other divisive issues – some salafist leaders have been speaking and preaching violence to Christians and also to the Shi`a in Egypt. Resulting in massacre in the streets only a week ago and many other incidents.
Q. What about the muslims in egypt who are practicing sunni Muslims and follow traditional and moderate concepts of islam. Whom they backed in last election. How is their population in egypt. Did they participate in recent revolution? I ask this question because we muslims (Risala and sunni Muslims in kerala) keep such a stand in political and religious issues
A. Luqman, I don’t think you can divide Egypt like that between “traditional” and “modern”
The Sufi movements in Egypt are an example of very traditional, indigenous movements and quite conservative. Their members have not supported the Muslim Brotherhood because the MB – like the salafists has taken a stand against Sufism. They’ve attacked the Shaykh al-Azhar (several shaykh al-Azhars have been important Sufi leaders)
99% of the Muslims in Egypt are Sunni – most from the Maliki madhhab, but because the Ottoman empire ruled Egypt for a time, there are also Hanafi jurists. Just background.
The bigger issue is whether Muslims want religion to play an important role in politics or not.
Salafism has been very attractive to many Egyptians because it espouses conservative values, but at the same time it does not take “traditional” stands on many issues. Egypt has a vibrant musical tradition and the salafists oppose music – the social and cultural traditions are not exactly like those in Saudi Arabia for ex.
Cairo University has had many supporters of the MB. One reason is that they provide both psychological and some financial support to their members and use older students to monitor younger ones. In contrast many other universities are split between students who might be religious but don’t put religion ahead of all other pursuits and those who are committed.
One of my research methods in Egypt was to carry out lots of interviews, in an oral history format where I could that is to find out the social background of those interviewed.
Not always possible [to use this method] because the Ministry of Information began to tighten up on research – but still it is helpful to understand why people hold the loyalties and ideals that they do. There might be a larger swathe of people who want Cairo to be somewhat like Paris, but not entirely – but then there is a very wide sector of the population who are not well-educated, do not speak foreign languages – and still a lot of illiteracy and underdevelopment.
Q. You said MB Has relationship with Hamas. But Morsi’s some stances helped Israel. How was the relationship of Morsi government to palestine? One of the reason of peoples angry against Mubarak that he suppressed Palestinian refugees and cooperated with Israel. I know you are an academic specialist in Palestine issue
No, I am a specialist to some degree on Egypt and on certain topics in Saudi Arabia, Syria and among Palestinians, as well as on the conjunction of Islam and politics.
I’m afraid that I believe the Egyptian government has been hypocritical or at least inconsistent in its support of Palestinians. It supports the Palestinians, but can’t effectively oppose Israeli policies which harm Palestinians. This is a natural outcome of its peace treaty forged by Sadat with Israel.
Also a function of US pressure on the Egyptian government. The Morsi govt. expressed support for the Hamas government but cooperated with Israel on border issues. A few days ago, 4 Hamas operatives were arrested in Mokattam, an area of Cairo. A Palestinian was kidnapped from Egypt by Mossad just a few days prior to that. So in the interest of security and the tense Israeli-Egyptian diplomatic relationship, its been difficult for Egypt to do much to improve Palestinian quests for sovereignty and independence. Even though the Morsi government and the Muslim Brotherhood have long supported Palestinian rights. So too, do many Egyptian liberals.
Egypt paid a very heavy price for its involvement in wars against Israel — in human terms.
Noting that one of the salafi parties just issued a call to its followers to “return to the mosques” and not take part in any clashes in the streets
Q. Very important question for us . I expect a descriptive answer. you know plenty of people were supported morsi government in kerala, when they came to power. But most of them who back Jamathe islami say that the main reason of rebellion against morsi, is western and american intervention. America dislikes mursi .So please answer could you say ,was there secret intervention by west against Morsi. How was the relationship between morsi government and america and europian union.
I meant most of the Kerala people believe so
And commented by fb that america has a potential role this revoltin
A. Absolutely not, if anything the opposite is true. Under the Obama administration the US, a long-time supporter of Hosni Mubarak, had to reexamine its positions towards Islamists, not only in the Arab Spring, but also as it attempted to reduce its activities in the war on terror. So we’ve seen the US change its policy on the Taliban, on the Islamic opposition in Tunisia, and in Yemen, and struggle with how to approach the Syrian opposition which has a strong Islamist component.
Obama has tried to cast this as a military coup and Egyptians are quite irritated by this characterization and neglect by the US on its own Independence Day, of attention to a popular movement.
The youth movement, Tamarrod, the 30th of June (a separate movement) and the liberal opposition in general is not very happy with the US because it saw many statements in support of Mursi’s goverment and a new kind of positioning of Islamists.
I can tell you that most in these groups will not meet with Americans and are extremely opposed to funding by US groups or appearing to be sponsored by them. But of course, they are using tools that were important in the first revolution – specific messages in social media and other media. And appealing to Egypt “of the Egyptians” and not the “Wahhabis” etc.
I think it is a mistake for people to assume that Mursi or MB are equivalent to traditional Islam or equivalent to Islamic unity, and should be supported just for that reason. As for the US, it cares very little for Egypt and more about its own [foreign policy] goals.
Q. Explain about Adly Mansour and Al Sisi? How did they come forward against Morsi, giving him 48 hours to resign or prove the problems. (you earlier said that army have special rights).
A. They did not come forward as individuals.
Morsi has violated the Constitution over and over. There is no legislature to appeal to since the election was vacated. The judiciary can do nothing. Everyone knew the protests of June 3oth would be huge. The Army went to Morsi to warn him and ask him to meet with the Tamarrod, the 30th of June movement, the 2 opposition parties and of course F & J and salafists. He refused. Then he gave this speech to explain why he was going to do nothing and claim he had been elected fairly and the whole thing was a plot against him by the former Mubarak govt. Since it is NOT a plot by former Mubarak govt. that made everyone who signed the petition — thats 22 million people almost as many as voted in the election, extremely angry. The sequence was then – the largest protests ever seen, and some clashes and fears of civil war. At that point, the military gave the MB an ultimatum – since Morsy would not cooperate, they promised the MB a role in the transitional period and future elections. Am sure senior leadership in MB were consulted. Then al-Sisi, merely as spokesperson and rep. for the Army and military announced that he had two more days to agree to a new type of solution. Morsi and his advisors kept saying “we will dialogue” but refused to enter into an actual agreement. Once the two days were up – the Army/mil fulfilled its ultimatum. Poorly played by Morsi, and very sad.
A different type of statesman would have agreed to step down and to coalition government.
Q. Now the interim president is Adley Mansour . How is his character?
At the same time, ordinary Egyptians see this as THEIR victory – that they could accomplish an impeachment of a President who made mistake after mistake and without the bloody response that the Syrian population is experiencing.
Adli Mansour is a judge, the former deputy chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest judicial body in Egypt. Like Morsi (who was not Freedom and Justice’s first choice, another candidate was disqualified) I think this has been a big surprise for him. The proposal was that the Chief Justice of the Constutional Court should become interim president, but that man retired just a few days ago, leaving Mansour in his place. A very serious person. Egypt had an interim president previously when Anwar Sadat was assassinated.
He studied in France, served on Egypt’s religious courts as well as civil and criminal courts, has held his position on the SCC since 1992.
Q. How is Sisi. You said something about him .
As a pupil of yours,
Seems to have typed text here – “President Obama expressed concern over the coup in a statement issued by the White House: ” … we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”
What would be the future approaches of america on this change?
A. The fact that Gen. al-Sisi was sent to the most important graduate program that Arab officers (as with Indian and other foreign officers) can attend shows that the Egyptian military thought highly of him or trusted him.
I don’t think that Obama has any right to make the statement [quoted] he does not rule Egypt, and should not be telling Egyptians or their military what to do. But it does show you that his administration is worried about how IT [the Obama admin] is going to be perceived, ie. will the Republican Party use this somehow against the Democratic president. And that Obama is choosing to overlook, or is unaware of the many violations by Morsi of Egyptian governmental process. Had Obama made even one of Morsi’s many major mistakes, Obama would have been impeached.
I cannot comment further on Obama’s’ statement as I really think it has a colonialist quality – as if the US will be the judge of what is or isn’t democratic activity. Do they comment on each fall of the Lebanese government [which has transitioned often]?
What will the future of egypt?
MB Activists are in streets now demonstrating against al-Sisi
A. I hope that Egypt will move into this transitional political period with as little bloodshed as possible. The Army roadplan includes a committee for reconciliation and I hope it accomplishes that. The immediate needs are: creating a new constitution, holding elections (again) for the parliament and president, making certain there is security. Some of the MB have been arrested and some media stations closed down. Some of these must stop issuing death threats to minorities and to the protesters. Others need to be released and media freedom restored after state of emergency
The above is all short term ……
Egypt needs also to create procedures for impeachment if needed again and to fulfill the aims of the 2011 revolution – bringing people more freedom, more social justice, and a better life. Addressing Egypt’s developmental and economic problems for the long-term is a huge challenge and one in which the government could bring in youth, many of whom are unemployed.
Egypt has been a terrible place for the poor and near-poor, it hasn’t achieved the kind of social justice that Pres. Nasser promised. Some are born and live in the streets, or go to vocational schools and no-one can achieve mobility without what is called wasta (connections) – this type of inequality and reliance on the competition of political elites is at the heart of the insecurity of the country and I hope, but am not certain that it will be overcome. Egyptians also have a fantastic amount of persistence, optimism, good humor, and I hope they succeed with these qualities in creating a more successful and fair political system. The Muslim Brotherhood came to understand opposition politics quite well, but performed less well with its own personnel in power, maybe it will learn and adapt from this experience.
Q. Is there any important t to add this interview?
Q. The political process of MB is an important issue here among the people of Kerala? Did you write any article about that issue? (we discuss what may and may not be republished)
A. I just want to clarify who and where I am — I am a former professor of the American University in Cairo, former research professor of the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, current director of the Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies which is independent [non-governmental] and whose purpose is simply to further understanding of the Middle East, Islamic world and the area of strategic studies in these regions.
. To Q. about translating my book – I do not think it is suitable to translate my book on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic parties and women in Egypt – it’s a good book, but old (1992). I have another short book on the struggle between the MB and liberals and Mubarak from 2007 – That is completely bound to that time frame.
First book’s name is: Revealing Reveiling in Contemporary Egypt. It is on Google books,
Here’s the 2007 book – http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=787
Q. Need a clarification about JF Party and MB
A. JF? Oh, Freedom and Justice Party, F & J,
I meant is JF Party a group of parties backed by MB
A. Now the strange thing is that the MB claim that the Freedom and Justice Party are independent as they are a “movement” which avoids hizbiyya (partisanship).
However, Freedom and Justice Party is actually the political party created by the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood has its own leadership and principles separate from the Party, although the MB’s followers fill the Party.
Important as well to say this: One should not read the ouster of Morsi government as the failure of political Islam. Political Islam is not really a perfect term to describe the activity of political forces who operate with religious ideals, but even so, Islamist parties are very popular throughout the Middle East and will most probably remain so for some time to come.
The AKP has been successful, though not without failures in Turkey. Hamas succeeded at the polls, but unfortunately, is not governing in a very democratic manner in Gaza and faced with severe opposition by Fatah in the Palestinian Authority, it doesn’t seem to be able to develop democratic characteristics.
Nevertheless, ordinary people in Egypt support the piety of the Muslim Brotherhood even when they rightly criticize many of their mistakes, or demand more of the movement than it was capable of at this time.
Q. One of the scholar of Al Azhar supported the army coup also a prominent christian leader
A. The world should not panic or pass judgment when political movements rise, or fall. Egypt had a very important political party in the past, the Wafd, which presented its demands for independence to the British. Although the Wafd still exists today, it is by no means the party it once was. The Muslim Brotherhood is somewhat unique in having both social and political structures with which to carry out da`wah.
Q. Who are the leaders of the ‘Wafd’
A. are or were? Their leader [in the 1920s) was Sa`ad Zaghloul. Now [their leader is] Sayyid al-Badawi
In the 50s and 60s, Pres. Nasser was the most attractive force in the region – but he fought with Egypt’s Islamists (the MB) in his time. Political fortunes rise and fall — is what I meant.
Q Please explain how was the relationship between Nasser and the Brotherhood.
A. Terrible! Anwar Sadat who was also part of the Free Officers was closer to them. Terrible because first the Free Officers brought in Mohammed Naguib [to head them] whose mother was Sudanese, a senior military officer. He also might have allowed MB more free reign but Gamal abd al-Nasser a more powerful personality, ousted Naguib after a year. Muslim Brotherhood then tried to assassinate Nasser [in 1954]. He arrested them in droves. His prisons were horrible (as they were under Mubarak). Thus, the MB oppose the Arab nationalism of that era which translated politically into the creation of a mass party, the Arab Socialist Union, an actual bi-country alliance with Syria for 3 years (Egypt and Syria were one country) and then the ASU morphed into the National Democratic Party under Sadat and Mubarak. Sadat was more afraid of the leftists and communists and Nasserists when he took over and freed the Muslim Brotherhood as well as supporting many Muslim groups in the universities. Unfortunately for him, these eventually turned on him, in the creation of the more radical Islamic groups of that era.
Q. But even though Mubarak strongly opposed Muslim Brotherhood,they come to power after his time. Does it mean that Muslim Brotherhod was a strong movement among the Egyptian people?
A. No, that’s not exactly accurate. Sadat let them out of jail in 1971. Mubarak did not become president until 1981. The Muslim Brotherhood were present for that entire era. They published the journals al-Da`wa and Liwa al-Islam. They held political offices and entered into political alliances with 2 of the tiny noncompetitive parties permitted outside of the NDP.
The MB were never the “only or the largest” strong movement. The issue was rather that the Egyptian government was much more afraid of the Gama`at Islamiyya movement with its million and a half members than the relatively small Muslim Brotherhood (some of the MB having gone into exile to the Gulf or Europe under Nasser)
But they were important because they had membership of several generations and a formal structure for decision-making, committees, and all sorts of grassroots activities.
as compared to the Gama`at Islamiyya who were (at first) mostly students and which recruited others.
Q. Ok. Was it true
I read in an article that Muslim Brotherhood was not active in the [Arab] spring against Mubarak
A. That’s not really true, but they did not jump immediately into the demonstrations. For months, there had been demonstrations held, but mostly by the supporters of Mohammad El Baradei and also at the death of Khaled Said in Alexandria. Then if you remember, people were burning themselves to death in front of the Egyptian parliament – several of them. Then the Tunisian revolution occurred (in December) and all of a sudden, the 1/25/13 protest grew beyond expectations. Muslim Brotherhood leadership did not want its cadres to be arrested as they had been routinely before. But Muslim Brotherhood youth groups broke with the orders and demonstrated, and then others in the MB joined the demonstrations. There was a lot of bickering between the MB and the opposition about who supported the revolution and had they stayed out of it — clearly the Muslim Brothehood had both suffered under Mubarak and also had followed his basic rules – never calling for a revolution since they couldn’t count on sufficient popular support. And alone, I don’t think they will get it now, but the Army wants to make certain.
Q. Ok. What was your expectation about the future of Egypt when Morsi was elected as a president? Did you expect such a collapse?
A. It might have come sooner, if [Ahmad[ Shafiq had been elected!
I didn’t expect Morsi to behave in such a stubborn and undiplomatic manner, although I would fault his advisors for this (not blaming him personally)
Ok. Were there any incidents reported that MB And Salafist groups vandalised Sufi shrines and Sufi muslims in Egypt after Mursi was elected?
so many incidents – there are shrines all over the country
Dates back before Mursi, goes even before 2011 – numerous attacks in Alexandria http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/apr/11/salafis-attack-sufi-mosques
A. Before the election and also after – Egypt has about 15 million Sufis – all the mulids are celebrated and during the celebrations salafis have attacked. – this article has photos http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-photos-egypts-sufis-thrive-despite-attacks
However one other thing was an accusation of MB being poisoned at the Azhar – let me see if I can find that (because Azharis are Sufis)
Q. I know some of my kerala friends graduated from Azhar
Q. Have Ulama a potential role in Egypt?
Especially among people
A. In al-Qalyubiya, two Salafis were arrested at the end of March 2013 after a group of salafis razed five local shrines
To this theme you could add the uproar when the film “innocence of the Muslims” was put up [on Youtube] and Christian TV and salafi TV channels both talked about it, US embassy was attacked (and there’ve been attacks since on Americans just for being Americans)
Q. What is your words about Al azhar University, its past and present ? For Kerala people , Azhar is a great institution. That is why I asked this
How it generate religious scholars
A. The Azhar is a state institution, so it cannot be completely independent of the Egyptian govt. At the same time, it is one of the oldest if not the oldest operating madrasahs of Islamic learning.
I believe the Azhar suffered in some ways through mismanagement and lack of funds – I say this because its publication projects used to ask me for student labor and people were paid no more than a tiny amount per page.
The Azhar schools – outside of the college have been part of the growth of Islamism in the country, its normalization over the last 20 years.
But the university is most important for those Muslims from outside of Egypt – for example, those I met in Cambodia where an entire generation of imams and leaders were killed off by Pol Pot – their options are al-Azhar or Saudi Arabia as centers of learning.
The Shaykh al-Azhar has been careful and tries not to politicize the University. That is naturally somewhat impossible – Muslims of all perspectives have studied there.
This is why Shaykh al-Azhar addressed the Egyptian people along with the Coptic Pope [Tawadros II] and Baradei, as a leader who discourages strife in the country, and he accepted Tamarrud’s and the Army’s road map.
Q. follow-up you said That Al nahda (Tunisia) is an islamic movement like Mb(perhaps we may call Nahda as brother movement of MB Ideologically). But under the leadership of Rashid Ghanushi, Nahda’s government in Tunisia is a success. But MB failed in egypt. Why has it happened so?
A. No, Ennahda is not such a success. The Tunisian liberals have been furious with them from day one. Recently, they began a movement just like Tamarrod (Tamarrod Tunisie) However, Ettakol [another party] agreed to work with Ennahda in coalition. And the army’s position in Tunisia is very similar to Egypt – they do not want to allow any serious civil discord.
What was the main reason to form MB In Egypt by Hasan al- Banna and Sayed Khuthub [Qutb]?
A. Sayyid Qutb did not found the MB [he was actually a nationalist, then joined the MB] Hassan al-Banna’s main reason was to provide activities and a platform for Muslim youth which would aid their Muslim identity in the face of British imperialism in Egypt. Sayyid Qutb was not initially part of the MB, but after he returned from a visit to the U.S. he became involved with the MB, and then was imprisoned and killed by the Nasser government.
Q. The Jamathe islami founded by Sayed moudi, keeps same ideology of MB. And they are strong in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Also in india they are a power. Had/have any relationship MB To Jamathe islami
JI Is a strong movement In Kerala, they just formed a political organisation named Welfare party of india. That is why i ask this question
A. All one can say is that they are also Islamists and believe that one must be engaged in da`wah.
Q. Follow-up continues Heard that 23 people killed in clash.also brotherhood announced to protest against army. What will be the future of egypt. Is there anything new to say (to add in interview). Please explain?
A. (This was long before the clearing of Rabaa and Nahda) I know that some in the Muslim Brotherhood do not approve of the violence their own followers are using – but the General Guide actually called for vengeance and violence and insulted the Shaykh al-Azhar and other leaders are likewise inciting their followers. The Army has done its best to suppress the clashes will keeping casualties down, the 30 killed (not 23) are not only MB. Here’s what i would add: “To counter the expansion of the Jan. 25th revolution and protest the ouster of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood held a Friday protest. Certain Morsi affiliates called for violence and the Army moved to suppress clashes. Meanwhile the new interim President extended an olive branch to the Muslim Brotherhood promising it participation in the new government. An interim Prime Minister will lead the new government until elections. The Muslim Brotherhood have more to gain by waiting and competing in the upcoming elections than by plunging the country into violence which would convince many ordinary Egyptians that they care more for the movement than the country as a whole.” I think the clashes will die down, except in Sinai where the problem is NOT only the Morsi followers — there is hatred for the central government there no matter who is in charge – rather the problem there are jihadists such as the Ansar al-Shari’ah and bedouin tribes who oppose the military.
Q. More follow-up. Where did you teach Al Sisi? How was his personal relationship with you when he was the student and later?
A. He was an International Fellow (there are approx. 45 international officers each year) at the U.S. Army War College in the Masters of Security Studies program. I was a research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute there. He was among the students in the Middle East Regional Studies course. The course is huge, it had at least 110 students, so they are divided into seminar groups and the professors lecture, in turn to the larger group. I also help the students write their Strategic Research project which is similar to a thesis, but much shorter. His attitude was respectful, intelligent and critically aware.
A. I also taught the current Army Chief of Staff one year earlier. Both of them are very religious men in a traditional sense.
Q Also we have to mention Dr Muhammad El beradi.what about him? How did he influence the people’s rebellion against Mubarak and recent revolt? Give me a picture about Him? How is his religious attitude?
Muhammad ElBaradei is a legal scholar, best known as former Director of the IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency fr. 1997 – 2009 (3 terms). He led a movement for human and political rights against Husni Mubarak – its rallies and demonstrations did not attract the huge participation of the public that appeared finally and unexpectedly on 1/25/11.
He heads the Constitution Party, and was a leader of the National Salvation Front – which included groups opposed to the Morsy government.
However, the Tamarrod movement started, as I said before, as an independent initiative of 5 young people. Only after the petition campaign grew tremendously and with the huge demonstrations was there coordination with ElBaradei and also other opposition parties. ElBaradei was selected by all of them as the negotiator or spokesperson to go to Morsi with the Army, but that dialogue effort was rejected by Morsi. ElBaradei did not receive enough support in previous election primaries to run as president, but was a candidate.
I mean the process had a primary – he was in it, then the rules were to cut it off and have only the 2 candidates with largest # of votes.
He has been criticized for having a career mostly outside of Egypt, but as a diplomat and with the IAEA, that’s probably not really a detriment to a future political role.
Q. He had been criticised when he won Nobel prize for peace as an agent of west . Because Nobel committee works like as an instrument of america and europe.-so perhaps political analyst argue that the whole recent rebellion of people and the for of interim government were dramatic incidents planned by west. Explain
Elberadie is now the interim prime minister
[it was announced on that day & then rescinded due to Nour’s opposition]
A. Luqman, I find these kind of rumors to be ridiculous. In fact, Mohammad ElBaradei did more than anyone to try to stop the US from starting a world war against Iran over the nuclear issue. And stood up to the US saying that there was NOT evidence of nuclear weapons capability in Iraq when US officials were claiming that they had found traces and materials from Niger. I really cannot be responsible for arguing to some kind of argument that sees a conspiracy when there is none. ElBaradei was berated for supposedly “downplaying” Iran’s capability by US politicians. The fact that he held 3 terms, not one as head of IAEA actually points to some confidence in his abilities on the part of world leaders. I would prefer that you simply leave out any discussion of the IAEA in this article which is supposed to be about Egypt. You can add that “Because ElBaradei was already an established political leader, and countered Morsi’s actions in overriding procedures in drafting the Egyptian constitution, and constantly criticized the Morsi government, he is unpopular with those who support the Muslim Brotherhood.
As for my personal views, I think countries should be able to develop nuclear capabilities, but only for peaceful purposes and would like to see the destruction of all nuclear weapons.
As that is not possible at present, it seems good to have an international agency that can diminish the calls for war by one country against another, if the second country provides evidence as requested by the IAEA or allows it to search.
For ex. Syria violated the IAEA’s agreement and secretly tested various weapons. Consider it both illegal that it did that, but also illegal that Israel bombed and destroyed the facility. This is what internat’l organizations and negotiations are for.
Maybe this piece which was written last January [will be helpful to you]- long before anyone outside of Egypt was interested in what was going wrong … it has considerable detail about some of the missteps by the Morsi government that I tried to describe in short: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/07/egypt-rule-brotherhood/?pagination=false
A. [same evening July 6] Luqman, like I said, things are just moving too quickly. Baradei was supposed to be sworn in at 8 pm. but now appears that the salafi party Nour objected. Other government ministers have been chosen, but I guess they will not name him after all.
Follow-up on July 9: Q. just need an explanation . Did al Nour party supported J&f party completely after the last election till Tamarrod movement start
A. No, not exactly, they are rival parties, Egypt adopted a system whereby parties must be part of a party list. F & J got highest number of votes, but Nour second highest. However, that is only out of registered voters who actually voted.
Q. Apparently in a part 2 of the interview (I have NO link to either one!) Please describe about egypt’s new interim prime minister al beblawi
A. Hazem al-Beblawi is the interim prime minister of Egypt. Egypt has not had a form of government with a strong prime minister since its 1952 revolution, in part because Pres. Mubarak would not name a vice president nor a successor while in office. Beblawi served in the Egyptian government after Mubarak’s fall as the Minister of Economics from July to November 2011 and he wrote a book about his experience called Four Months in the Government’s Cage that shows his understanding of Egypt’s economic problems. First and foremost he tried to address the pressures on liquidity brought about because the country’s imports cost far more than what it receives for its exports and because tourism was down. There is a large deficit and the country has a huge population, therefore the country must get over its anti-loan mentality and find new resources like developing solar technology. Also in that time period Saudi Arabia and Qatar had promised to bail Egypt out financially and each paid something like 500 million dollars but then did not continue their aid because of the instability However, this time around he will have his own minister of economics, and a team of ministers who all seem very qualified in their fields.
The Islamist Nour Party had objected to two other candidates for the office of interim prime minister, but they agreed on al-Beblawi.
Q. So the prime minister is not confirmed yet?
And how is the personce of MB In last days.?
Do they they fight against interim government?
Also there was a report that was published by al jazeera, says some leaders of the revolution had accepted money from the Us? Is al jazeera a credible channel? was there any connection between Mb and al jazeera, ideologically?
A. No, he’s confirmed as is interim President Adly Mansour as are many of the other ministers, expect some to be confirmed by the end of today or tomorrow. The Muslim Brotherhood leadership has bit been cooperating with the Army. The Army went to them before July 3, 2013 to try to Morsi and the Freedom & Justice party to participate in a referendum, and he refused. Some members of Morsi’s party (F & J) have called for violence, as have some MB leaders. And they threatened violence against the army, to assassinate al-Sisi and to heighten attacks in the Sinai peninsula, where in fact a bus was bombed today and the army is fighting some extremist groups which support Morsi. Now, the Muslim Brotherhood leadership may have agreed behind closed doors that Morsi could leave so long as they can participate in the next government. They cannot admit that especially in the face of Morsi’s supporters who have been attacking protesters and the army until today in different areas of Cairo, and previously in Alexandria and other cities. The army has allowed them to gather in one area but it fought back when they attacked the Presidential Guard headquarters.
A. Overall, the army is doing its best to quell the violence while allowing Morsi’s supporters to continue protesting. The Muslim Brotherhood leadership is saying that it requests Morsi to return to being president and hold elections (which is what Morsi wanted), but the Army is not going to agree to that, nor will the Tamarrod or groups which sparked the demonstrations.
What al-Jazeera was reporting (and i can send you a few better links) concerns three lawsuits that have been filed against Morsi, El Erian and other F & J or MB leadership. These may lead to a trial for treason, but they each have been filed by a different person and it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not to proceed. It seems there are phone records supplied by Egyptian intelligence between Morsi and the United States (and also to Afghanistan and to Hamas) in the days just prior to June 30th. I would not be surprised if Morsi asked the US to back him if there were very large protests. It is not surprising that there are calls to Hamas, but also the Egyptian security has arrested a few Hamas personnel and found weapons in an area of Cairo. One of the lawsuits goes back to Morsi’s escape from prison in Wadi Natroun in 2011 and alleges that Hamas operatives came into Egypt and helped the Muslim Brotherhood release prisoners from the jails. This is quite possible, but it does not seem to rise to treason at this time since the 1/25/11 revolution followed. But there was a trial of a somewhat similar nature which accused a group of NGOs of involvement in the Egyptian revolution including two American groups affiliated to the U.S. Democratic & Republican armies. So maybe a prosecutor will want to pursue this. Beyond what the newspapers are saying, there is a video circulating and claims that Morsi was willing to cede land in the Sinai and there are claims that he was spying for the CIA, or somehow tied to them. I hope that we do not see a trial like that of some political leaders in Iraq and Syria in times past, but much depends on the Muslim Brotherhood’s willingness to give up on Morsi.
Q. Then sends a link to Emad Mackey’s article
The al-Jazeera article you linked is not by an AJ correspondent but by a very strange source & NO, it is not dependable at all. I do not want to be linked with this false information. If you read it carefully you will see he is actually writing about the 1/25/11 revolution and pretending the same organizations are active now, they aren’t.
I don’t know what you can say now about the 3 lawsuits filed against Morsi, except that they were filed. Since we don’t know what will result. Hopefully, he will agree to leave the country or give up his claim to office and wait for a chance in the next election.
Q. I asked this because here some left newspapers reported that al jazeera news
A. They should have fact-checkers before they reprint.
Q. And plenty of people believing so..
Yes. -They totally supported when morsi was elected . So now too they try to support them
A. I really think that people must have a better understanding of Egypt. 90% of Egyptians are Muslims, but that does not mean that the majority want a president who puts his political movement ahead of the country. People outside of Egypt forget that nearly all of the people in the new government are also Muslims and also religious, but the general feeling is against pushing religion in the style of Saudi Arabia.
A. Maybe you can add that the new Cabinet consists of technocrats in the sense that people are highly qualified for their positions, which could not be said of all of Morsi’s previous ministers, and they include three women.
Q. He says he can’t add that as material already submitted. Also. Risala is a weekly . The first part was published between July 18-25 issue. The second issue was between July 25-August 1 issue. Risala was begun in 1983 from Calicut, Kerala.