Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Muslim Brotherhood "not to exist" - Egyptian presidential runner Al-Sisi

In his first interview with Egyptian TV, the presidential runner, Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi, defended the protest law and said that the Muslim Brotherhood will "not exist" during his presidency.
Al-Sisi gave the two-hour-long recorded interview to Presenters Ibrahim Isa and Lamis al-Hadidi of private ON TV and CBC TV stations respectively. A second episode will be broadcast on 6 May by the two TVs.
Al-Sisi is considered to be the front-runner in Egypt's presidential election, slated for 26 and 27 May.
He promised a "corrective policy" towards the Islamic discourse and vowed to prevent the country from collapsing.

"Not to exist"

"The country will not survive with its political, social and religious fabric if the Muslim Brotherhood's kind of thoughts rule again," Al- Sisi said.
He was answering a question about his earlier remarks that the Muslim Brotherhood should start reconciling with the society and not the other way round.
Asked on whether those who will vote for him will guarantee that Muslim Brotherhood will not exist during your presidency, Al-Sisi said: "Yes, exactly." "I cannot have any plans against God but I am responsible if I win to have real corrective policies regarding religious issues," he said.
Al-Sisi also said: "I have not ended the group. You, Egyptians did when you said: 'No' on 30 June and now. The problem of the Muslim Brotherhood lies with the Egyptian people and not me."

Salafists

On Salafists, he said that the constitution bars parties on religious basis. But he also said that anybody could run in parliamentary elections when asked about his remarks that there will be no exclusion to Islamists who are not involved in violence.
Al-Sisi also called on voters to carefully choose their president and MPs because this will influence their future.

Muslim Brotherhood

Al-Sisi also said the Muslim Brotherhood has done "much harm to Egyptians," not only during the recent eight months since Islamist president Muhammad Morsi's downfall or during his one-year, but also through ruling Egypt in accordance to their own thoughts rather than the "contract" Egyptians voted them for.
"The Muslim Brotherhood should have respected the constitution and the rule of the law and this did not happen," he explained.
Answering a question on whether he expected the violence that erupted after Morsi's downfall, Al-Sisi said that the "thoughts of the Islamist groups include the inevitability of confrontation with the society as other people were believed to be infidels by them".
"These groups think that they are superior because of religion," he said.
He said that one of their leaders, named by Al-Hadidi as Khayrat al-Shatir, "threatened" him that he will bring fighters from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and everywhere to fight Egyptians and the army in case Morsi was deposed. "Egyptians will not be intimidated," Al-Sisi said.
He also said that the "Muslim Brotherhood are fighting behind different titles so that the mainstream members do not get accused of anything," referring to groups like the Sinai-based Jihadist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

Islamic discourse

Al-Sisi complained about the kind of the present Islamic discourse in the world which "made Islam lose its humanitarian side".
"This is grave. God is being presented in a way that does not suit his great position. All of us and the rulers as well should reconsider their positions because God will question all of us in the hereafter," he said. Asked whether the ruler should be a preacher, he said: "Not a preacher. But he should be aware and accountable. I am a leader of the people. I should not see another [religious] leader speaking to the people and I am just watching. I am accountable."
Asked whether he will interfere if a preacher gives a wrong discourse, he said that during the Islamic times in history, Muslim had a civil rather than a religious state." Speaking about the Islamist state deposed president Morsi was trying to found, he said that there has to be good judgement and good practise of religion, which include the respect of the state of the law. "People cannot sabotage, destroy and kill in the name of God. This is a grave abuse of religion," he said.
"God is the one who will hold people accountable for praying or not. Islamist thought should be subject to reconsideration," he added.

Protest law

On the protest law and the imprisonment of activists, Al-Sisi said that security will not prevail amid chaos and the protest law was one of the tools to prevent chaos.
"The protest law organizes and does not ban protesting," he said.
"You have the right to protest and you will be allowed to protest, but we [officials] will not allow this country to collapse," he angrily said.
Asked whether the country will collapse because of protests, he said: "Yes. Because of the state of chaos we [Egyptians] are living in." Asked about the danger terrorism rather than protests poses, he said: "Yes, along with irresponsible [without-permit] protests."

Vision

"Stabili ty and security will be prioritized along with development," Al-Sisi said when he was asked about his vision for the country.
He said that Egyptians cannot live on 7 per cent of their area and that Egypt has debts. He also said that it is "unacceptable" to have 12 million unemployed people.
Al-Sisi promised when he wins to provide jobs, increase tourism, houses, and mining opportunities. He spoke about the development of Sinai.
On combatting terrorism, he said that this will be gradual and take time. He also said that there is keenness to make a balance between the security situation and human rights.
"Our role will be to end doubts [people have] and replace them with confidence," he said. "The presidential platform is a dream that could be achieved," he also said.

"Good example in every way"

On why he did not appear except in official occasions when he was in office and resorted to silence since he had declared running for presidency, he said: "Silence was a necessity in reality. The main reason is that if I represent for Egyptians the hope that they are longing for or the future they aspire, I will have to consider that they only see the good things in me and I should give them a good example in every way."
"When we are speaking about the state of the law, the decisions of the High Election Commission (HEC) [not to start campaigning before 3 May] become a law and I have to respect this decision to give the [good] example," he added
Al-Sisi said that after he resigned from the Defence Ministry, he had started to meet many people from various walks of lives after at a wide scale. "I met all the hues [of people], intellectuals, and scientists to speak about their visions of the future and how to push this country forward," he said.

Silence, communication

"Too much talk reduces good content," he said.
When asked by Ibrahim Isa whether he will be the "silent president," he eagerly said: "No, one of the mistakes of the previous systems is not communicating with the people. No, the people have to know and understand because if they know and understand [the situation], there will be no problems."

Denial of prior plans to take power

Al-Hadidi asked him whether he had a calculated plan to take power when he gave an ultimatum to Islamist president Muhammad to listen to the people and hold a referendum. He replied: "Let me present myself to the people in a good way. I would not respect myself if I think this way by making a plan to take power. I would not respect myself and I would have not respected the people or the will of Egyptians I am speaking about. The statement of 3 July 13 was very clear. I said the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court is the interim president of Egypt and there is a prime minister and a government without interference from my side."
On Morsi's downfall, he said that the army "did not make a conspiracy or consult any internal or external parties".
"The army did not rule then and it is not ruling now," he said. He also said that if he is elected as president, the army will "not rule," denying he is the candidate of the army.
Nevertheless, later in the interview, he said that the state has to help the police regain its capability in spreading security. And putting his hand on his chest he said: "If a demand was presented to us [the army], we will help."

Reasons behind running for president

Answering a question by Al-Hadidi why he changed his opinion and chose to run for president, he said: "There were challenges against Egypt and it was targeted in home and from abroad. This makes any patriotic person -in charge and who has the chance to take a step forward and protect this country, the people and their future- take the initiative."
"There are fears of danger and of the country's collapse. I could have never left the people. Nobody can come near [threaten] Egypt. No. There are people who can protect it against internal and external threats," he said with determination.
He also said that he was keen to comply with "the wishes of the simple Egyptians". "If we love and respect Egyptians, their orders must be enforced [by the army]. Egyptians are the higher authority of this country," he added.
"Remember the extent of concern Egyptians felt after 3 July and 14 August 13, the dire security situation and how the outer world dealt with us. Egyptians demanded an action. Please, go ahead [Egyptians' call on Al-Sisi to nominate himself] and this was clear on the day of the referendum," he also said. "The lives of millions of Egyptians are at risk," he noted. Al-Sisi explained that the army writes reports on public opinion.
He then confirmed Isa's remark that he took the decision to run on 27 February 14.
On whom he consulted before running for president, he said: "The family." "My wife told me you do not have a choice. We [Al-Sisi's family] certainly love you, but this nation will collapse," he said.
He then spoke about the awareness of Egyptian women who are afraid about the future of their children. He also praised the role of Egyptian women in the past and future phases.

Assassination attempts

Asked by Al-Hadidi whether he was concerned about his own safety when he decided to run, Al-Sisi said he accepts his destiny. "Nobody will give or take life from me. Every breath is calculated [by God]," he noted.
He also said that he was subject to two assassination attempts without giving the details.

Neighbourhood

Al- Sisi said that he was brought up as an Egyptian Muslim in Al-Jamaliyah, one of the oldest districts in Cairo, "where nobody defiled the Jewish synagogue or the Church in any way".
"There were cultural, human and civilizational diversity without any limits," he said.

Late president Abd-al-Nasir

The presidential runner spoke about his decision to join the air force school after the Egyptian air force was bombed in the 1967 War. "This is why I joined military," he said.
"I was the first in my family to enrol in the military," he also said.
"I have seen the look of pain and defeat in the eyes of Egyptians after the 1967 defeat. This look that many young Egyptians are not aware of now," he added.
He also expressed his love for late president Abd-al-Nasir and he hoped he would be like him. Comparing him to Abd-al-Nasir, he said: "This is too much. I hope I would deserve such a position."

Family

A smiling Al-Sisi said he decided to marry his wife when he was in school and married her after completing the military academy.
He praised his "kind" and "devoted" wife.
He also said that he has four children: three sons and a girl, Mahmud, who works in intelligence, Mustafa, who works in the administrative auditing authority, Hasan and, the girl, Ayah. He added that Hasan applied at the Foreign Ministry twice and did not pass its exam, saying that he is against favouritism.

Criticism

On criticism levelled and to be levelled to him, he said: "I will tolerate." He also said that excesses on the internet are a "wave that will end," but he also said that respect should prevail. He added that media together with education and religious institutions should play a role to raise ethical standards together with the law.

Source: CBC TV, Cairo, in Arabic 1900gmt 05 May 14

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