Egyptian former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq has described the decree that Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi issued as “a colonization and occupation on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood and a subversion of state institutions.”
He said the decree must be confronted, or else Egypt will be left to the Brotherhood’s president, state and people. Shafiq added, “Morsi’s speech in front of the Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace was provocative,” lying in wait just under the surface, addressing the people of the Brotherhood and conveying a misestimation. Therefore, Morsi must renounce his constitutional declaration and give an apology speech to the people for his mistakes, or else “he will find himself face to face with an uprising that will shrink him and his administration down to size.”
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What do you have to say about the crisis caused by the recent constitutional decree?
Shafiq: The crisis is normal, and it resulted from Morsi and his party’s violent tendency to acquire and monopolize power. This crisis was anticipated, given the Brotherhood’s administrative idiocy and lack of experience in managing the country.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: In your opinion, what were the reasons for Morsi to issue the constitutional declaration?
Shafiq: Morsi and the Brotherhood want to break the popular blockade, weaken the strong and effective opposition and establish the hegemony of fundamentalist ideology over both the country and the state’s institutions. Basically, they are few and unable to achieve their objectives at present. Morsi’s step was poorly estimated and requires him to repudiate the constitutional declaration and give an apology speech to the people for his mistakes, or else he will find himself face to face with an uprising that will shrink him and his administration down to size.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What are your main remarks about the constitutional declaration?
Shafiq: The declaration consolidates a totalitarian ideology in which the president is considered God. It supports fascism and prosecutes the opposition under a law protecting the revolution. Claiming that the declaration is temporary is a deception on the part of Morsi that even a primary-school student wouldn't buy. With this declaration, Egypt has vanished. Its identity has been wiped clean and we will be left to the Brotherhood’s president, state and people. The reason behind this declaration is clear; as a people we are faced with a new president who is managing the country. He was never an official is his life and all of a sudden he finds himself amidst turmoil.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What do you say about the president’s speech in front of the Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace after that the constitutional declaration was issued?
Shafiq: The speech was provocative and shows the short-sightedness of a president in power. All dictators accuse the opposition leaders — as Morsi has accused the opposition — of being thugs, conspiring against the people and stability and stopping the wheel of production, just like his predecessor. Morsi implicitly revealed that he is following his predecessor’s spying and taping policy against the opposition. If we were in a civilized country, this president would be forced to leave his post immediately, because these words reflect irresponsibility. Mobilizing the Brotherhoods’ members before the president makes a speech in front of the presidential palace confirms that Morsi is only supported by the Brotherhood’s people, who comply and obey.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: How do you see the Judges Club’s reaction of suspending their work in some courts and administrations?
Shafiq: The club’s reaction is a normal response to an oppressive constitutional declaration. A noble institution can’t watch the president destroying [institutions] without objecting, and suspending their work is a type of objection that doesn't negatively affect the citizens’ basic needs. The Brotherhood is repeatedly accusing and insulting the judges on the satellite TV channels in the absence of any accountability, although these judges supervised the parliamentary elections that gave the Brotherhood a majority.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What do you say about dismissing the attorney general as mentioned in the declaration, and the alleged reasons for submitting the electoral-fraud case to the minister of justice before investigating it?
Shafiq: Indeed, this is the most important reason. Morsi’s insistence on sacking Abdel Maguid Mahmoud and taking stances against the judiciary is completely unsound and irrational. The problem of Morsi and his Brotherhood is that they refuse to respect the state. They seek to establish a caliphate and a judicial system based on Shariah law in which people believe only in compliance, obedience and loyalty. Our problem is that we placed the reins of power in the hands of prisoners and we are now suffering the results of a “pharaonic” constitutional declaration. I urge the general prosecutor to complete investigations into the claims of falsifying the presidential elections, reports about the Bulaq state-run press, opening prisons and freeing detainees, bombing gas lines and terrorist acts in the Sinai. He must do so if he wishes to prove that he is the defender of the people and not a mere general prosecutor appointed by Morsi.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What are the repercussions of such a policy?
Shafiq: First of all I would like to say that Morsi — or any other member of the Muslim Brotherhood from the supreme guide to the least significant member — have been all shunned by society for decades and pursued by a security system that showed no mercy to them. Following the revolution, some cival-society groups were wrong when they exaggeratedly trusted them with state management, as they do not know how to manage successfully.
They need to undergo political rehabilitation for a long time. Some of the Brotherhood’s members suffer from mental disorders and hold a grudge against the state and the people. It is not right to let those who were once behind bars come to power, because as you can see we are suffering the consequences. Psychological crises and diseases are taking their toll on the state, crushing the people’s post-revolution aspirations.
The Brotherhood is, in fact, a foreign body. But I want to note that despite this fact, the Brotherhood was part of the former regime. It used to abide by its decisions and strike deals with it during parliamentary elections. Morsi himself was part of the game. He was previously in charge of the Brotherhood’s elections. However, to be fair, there are some wise members in the group who have been calling upon the president and the Brotherhood’s leaders to take better steps, instead of causing tension between the people and the Islamic group.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: How far can the ongoing conflict between secular powers and the Muslim Brotherhood go? Do you anticipate a new revolution?
Shafiq: If Morsi and the Brotherhood continue to insist on imposing this decree and refuse to renege on these reckless actions, then before long the revolution will deal them a severe blow. The secular forces will not back down and will win. However, should Morsi reverse his decision, apologize to the people, show respect to the state and its institutions and act as a president to all Egyptians, the situation will be defused. To ignorantly manage the state after the revolution will produce bloody conflict. The Brotherhood is the least knowledgeable about the art of political management. Its popularity after the revolution is due to the fact that most of the Egyptian people remain grandly poor, ill-educated and were bought off with an oil canister or some sugar.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Do you expect the army to intervene should the conflict escalate between civil forces?
Shafiq: The only ones who have the right to speak about the army’s role or intervention in any conflict are its leaders. As a former military man, I am well aware that the army is devotedly loyal to its homeland and people. The proof of this is that during the height of Mubarak’s power, the army did not fire a single bullet against the people. Should the army step into the conflict, it will side with the people and in favor of the public interest. No one can stand against tanks, not the Brotherhood or anybody else.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Do you support the decision of Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabahi and [Amr] Moussa to form a “national salvation front?”
Shafiq: Will all my might. The country is in real danger. Every citizen must stand up against the unjust tyrant. Silence is no longer possible. What is happening is haram [forbidden]. May God be my witness, the country is being dragged down into a deep pit and the economy is collapsing. Should this situation drag on, we will never be back on our feet. Our rulers are reckless. They are distracting the people by what is forbidden and sacred according to Shariah law. They turn a blind eye to their responsibility for 90 million people who fell victim to poverty crawling into their homes.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What do you think about the accusations of Morsi and the Brotherhood that the former regime's remnants are behind the protests against the constitutional declaration?
Shafiq: These claims are unfounded. Let Morsi first of all perform his duties as a true president, and the Brotherhood assume its responsibility as a party of the majority. The former regime is behind bars. Such talk is frustrating and further proof that those in power did not learn from the experience of the former regime, most importantly how to seriously deal with crises, reject conspiracy and to never resort to tarnishing the opposition’s reputation.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What do you think of the law of the revolution’s protection and re-trials?
Shafiq: First of all, a law that protects the revolution, as well as the launching of investigations, is further proof that the era of persecuting the opposition under the guise of “revolutionary legitimacy” and “protecting the revolution” is on its way out. On the other hand, the retrial of former regime officials who committed crimes, the stealing and looting and the allocation of pensions to the families of the martyrs and wounded are nothing but deceptions on the part of the Brotherhood, and are designed to cover its authoritarian decisions.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What are your concerns following the death of two people, the acts of sabotage and vandalism and burning down the Brotherhood’s headquarters in the governorates?
Shafiq: Destruction is unacceptable under any circumstance. I strongly condemn those who believe that burning the Brotherhood’s headquarters will lead to the collapse of the regime. However, what Morsi is doing proves that we are, without any doubt, facing Brotherhood totalitarianism. This group needs political rehabilitation so it can assume its responsibility based on a sense of nationalism rather than extremist ideology.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: What do you think of the international reactions to the constitutional declaration?
Shafiq: We are exposed. We do not need to know the reactions of any party. It is a scandal. We are experiencing a revolutionary setback.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: However, some say that the international reactions were weak, given the Brotherhood’s relationship with the United States. What do you think?
Shafiq: These claims are nonsense. First of all, the truce in Gaza was successful because of the relations of the Brotherhood with Hamas, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is not an achievement, or a breakthrough, or anything of this sort. Any other Egyptian president would have pulled it off, as the Israeli strikes pushed Hamas to back down and accept the truce. I say to Morsi and his group: The Palestinian-Israeli truce was a big success to you? What about the domestic issues? The high prices, the gasoline crises and the rampant poverty? The people are waiting for solutions from their president and his party.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: You have been talking about your eminent return since you left. When is that?
Shafiq: Believe me, as soon as possible. The opportunity to come back is ready now.