“I am not standing for the Brotherhood, I am standing for a democratic process”, says Safwat Hegazy, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, to Comment Middle East writer Walaa Quisay.
In Rabaa al-Aadweya Square I met with a man now infamous due to the current political climate within Egypt. Safwat Hegazy is a controversial revolutionary figure and a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The man I met was not the villainous demagogue demonised on Egyptian TV. Instead, I met a tired but determined man who wanted to get his points across, at a time when the Egyptian media are largely denying him, and those like him, any forum.
Walaa Quisay: What are the true causes that led the current situation?
Safwat Hegazy: In my opinion it is the refusal of the successful Islamic model by a sector of Egyptian society, namely the Church, Egyptian liberals, socialists, leftists, and Marxists. Among the Egyptian people, there are certainly those who refuse the Islamic experience.
Secondly, there is the military. The military refuses to be barred from governing and running the affairs of the state, and they wish to keep the utmost power within the system, therefore they refuse the existence of a civilian president.
Thirdly, there are those that would benefit from the old regime or have a vested interest in it, and have collaborated with foreign powers. This is extremely obvious.
WQ: Foreign powers, like whom?
SH: Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and all the other anti revolutionary states.
Fourthly, we have defiantly made a lot of mistakes. These are the four points that led us to this situation.
WQ: Did the regime know of the army’s conspiracies or did it take them by surprise?
SH: We cannot say that we had a new regime governing Egypt. What we had was a president with a group of helpers. This was a mistake because we did not cleanse the state institutions. I do not believe that the president knew of the coup even though there were rumors a few months prior.
WQ: Can you please tell us in our opinion the mistakes committed by the Brotherhood and the president [ousted president Mohammed Morsi] in the past year?
SH: The Brotherhood did not stand with the president as they should have. The Brotherhood and the FJP [Freedom and Justice Party] proved to be inefficient in matters of governance. The methodology of the Muslim Brotherhood itself should have changed. We were in a phase of revolutionary transformation. There should have been a revolutionary methodology not a reformist one. The Brotherhood and the Party were stuck in a reformist methodology, which should have not been the case.
WQ: What is the revolutionary methodology that they should have used?
SH: In my opinion, they should have cleansed the government institutions even if that included exceptional measures. How can a president leave institutions such as the media to insult and destroy the state for a whole year? Contrarily, the first thing they [the army] did after the coup was shut down the channels they believed supported the president. Furthermore, the president did nothing to the figures of the old regime. Whereas, the first thing the proponents of the coup did was to arrest those they believe to be siding with the president. The president did not do either of these things with the men of the past regime or the leaders of the fake opposition.
In Egypt, we need to differentiate between the national opposition with the opposition with foreign agendas, which is something the president did not do. With regards to the Interior Ministry, the president changed nothing. Similarly, with the military he should have played a more effective role as the leader of the Armed Forces.
WQ: If the army asked to negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood, what do you think will be the reaction?
SH: I am not acting as a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood or even as a member and merely talking as a revolutionary figure, and I have no business in what the Brotherhood intends to do. I personally refuse any negotiations before the president’s release and his return to the palace. The president is the only person that has a right to negotiate with the military and not us [the MB]. I did not vote for the Brotherhood, I voted for Mohammed Morsi. I am not standing for the Brotherhood, I am standing for a democratic process that must be completed. If Hamdeen Sabbahy or any honest opposition, forget Hamdeen, was voted president and I opposed him, I would still take to the streets in protest refusing the coup.
WQ: If Morsi returns will the people remain protesting?
SH: I think so, until the demands of the revolution are fulfilled and all the state institutions are cleansed.
WQ: There is a lot of social conflict and people are afraid of a civil war, what do you think?
SH: There is no civil war here. And there will be no civil war unless the army wants there to be. Unfortunately, the Interior Ministry with their thugs are trying to push us into a civil war. Until now it is only we the supporters of the president who are being attacked. We are the ones that are dying, and it is we that are being shot and killed.
WQ: Rumours on TV say that it the Pro-Morsi faction that is doing the shooting?
SH: Our media are liars. They are treacherous and have betrayed the revolution. You cannot believe them. Let them give us names.
WQ: What will happen to the Muslim Brotherhood if Morsi does not come back?
SH: Naturally, it will be dissolved and criminalised.
WQ: What do you think should change in the Muslim Brotherhood?
SH: There should definitely be a restructuring of the Brotherhood. A new generation of youth must take charge with new ideas and a new consciousness.
WQ: Everyone said this before..
SH: This is one of their mistakes.
WQ: The youth or the Brotherhood
SH: The Brotherhood.
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