Islamic Group in Egypt Not Demanding Morsi's Return

As all sides in Egypt seem keen to establish some semblance of calm and stability, representatives from Gamaa Islamiya note that they are not insistent on ousted President Mohammed Morsi’s return.

al-monitor The remnants of a poster of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are seen at a gas station in Cairo, Aug. 28, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Louafi Larbi.

Topics covered

reconciliation, military, islamists in egypt, islamists, egypt

Aug 30, 2013

A prominent leader in Gamaa Islamiya in Egypt, Abboud el-Zumar, told Al-Hayat that he has been in touch with army leaders to find a political solution to the current crisis, demanding “leniency” from both sides to reach a compromise. Zumar discussed the details of an initiative proposed by Gamaa Islamiya, a group which constitutes one of the major components of the “pro-legitimacy alliance” supporting ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The initiative includes four stages, the last of which is the implementation of the road map set by the army and the revolutionary and political forces “through a constitutional solution.”

In an indication of the prevalence of the pro-reconciliation supporters among the allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belongs, the pro-legitimacy alliance reported in a statement that “it does not have any reservations on the appeasement initiatives taken by mediators.”

However, two televised speeches by Essam al-Arian and Mohammed al-Baltagi, leaders of the Freedom and Justice Party — the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood — showed that one of the Brotherhood trends will proceed with the escalation through rallying people in the streets. This was classified by sources in the pro-reconciliation alliance as “pressure to improve the negotiation conditions.”

In statements to Al-Hayat, Zumar added that Gamaa Islamiya is holding talks with the components of the alliance to harbor the acceptance of a point of view that is being prepared and that begins with seeking to set the stage for a comfortable climate as part of the appeasement stage, where bloodshed and attacks are absent. He clarified that these ideas that they are attempting to turn into an “initiative” depend on the presence of a balanced solution between both parties (the army and the alliance), whereby each makes compromises.

Moreover, Zumar noted that this initiative consists of four stages. The first is appeasement, during which the government will demand lifting the state of emergency and avoiding throwing exaggerated accusations at the Brotherhood that did not commit acts of violence, such as “incitement to violence.” Further, the demands include limiting the pursuits of people, abstaining from arresting women and releasing those who were detained. As for the pro-legitimacy alliance, its demands include that its protests be put in a peaceful setting and exclude any use of weapons or walking in places where there are army or police facilities or churches, so that the protests remain far from any possible clashes or tensions with the authorities. Moreover, the protests should not cross the streets or surround facilities, and sit-ins should not take place.

Zumar added that if both parties succeed in establishing this equation, which requires getting the state-controlled/dominated media to back off attacks on the Brothers, only then will there be a transition to the next phase. This next stage includes negotiations between the army and the alliance, with the Brotherhood in the center. Zumar said, “We accept the negotiations based on the road map. We agree on the mechanisms of this plan because it consists of elections that will reflect the public will, which is something we embrace and approve of. However, the point of disagreement lies in the prelude to the implementation of the road map plan. We are seeking to control it such that it stems from the constitution subject to popular referendum.”

He also indicated that “the Brotherhood believes that constitutional legitimacy is the way out of the current dilemma. Consequently, we are seeking a solution based on the suspended constitution so that this solution might take us to the implementation of the road map.”

He noted that reaching an agreement on this basis will lead to the third phase that consists of “the reconciliation” and, ultimately, the implementation of the mutually agreed-upon procedures.

He said, “The commitment to legitimacy does not necessarily mean that Morsi will return to power. Honestly speaking, can he lead the state with everyone against him? It is impossible. He could not lead it with some of the institutions against him; is it possible for him to succeed with everyone against him? The idea of Morsi’s return is inapplicable, because he will be clashing with all institutions.” Zumar explained, “The problem lies in the preparation for a meeting between the Brotherhood and the military, and how to provide assurances to both parties.”

Zumar is seemingly speaking as a “mediator” between the Brotherhood and the military, despite being one of the most prominent leaders of the Gamaa Islamiya, which is the second most important component of the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, after the Brotherhood. He did not refuse being portrayed as a “mediator,” and said, “The one who adopts the initiative for a solution is necessarily a mediator; he must be an acceptable figure for both parties, flexible and impartial as much as possible.”

He pointed out that there are “communications with the interim government to develop a solution before the parties turn into enemies.” He added, “We do not show enmity toward the military, the police or the state. Political rivalry should never get to the point of persecuting the other.”

He explained that he is “communicating with military leaders, given that the armed forces have become part of the scene and have assumed a role in the change. We are speaking to the military officials who are responsible for the road map and will be supervising its implementation.” He added that based on his communications with military leaders, he “feels that the armed forces are keen to find a political solution, and they are aware of the seriousness of the situation and the implications of the conflict, which could entail serious dangers for the country, if it continues.” He said, “The military leaders are ready to meet with any figure able to help find a solution.”

For its part, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy said that it does not have reservations on the initiatives aimed at calming the situation, which are conducted by mediators. It, however, emphasized its rejection of the proposals of the committee of 10 experts tasked with amending the constitution. The alliance said in a statement that “it would reproduce a corrupt system.”

It added, “We do not have reservations on the initiatives aimed at calming the situation, which are conducted by mediators to stop the bloodshed. This is provided that they do not ignore the will of the people who own the revolution and real sovereignty, and that they aim to preserve the rights of the martyrs.” The statement added that “the atmosphere of hatred and sharp social division that threatens to dismantle and divided society in Egypt is inadequate for the drafting or amendment of the constitution in any cases.” The statement added, “The coup committee worked on amending the constitution in secrecy, as if it is working against enemies. Its amendments left the door open to reproduce the authoritarian presidential system that governed us for decades.” 

The alliance condemned “the acts of violence, arson and looting carried out against the churches, mosques, police stations, and public and private facilities, as well as those conducted against the armed forces and the police in the Sinai. The alliance reaffirms its commitment to peacefulness of the revolution and stresses that its objectives are limited to restoring legitimacy and rejecting the coup.”

More from  Ahmed Raheem