Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: "We are not an enemy to women and art"

News article, posted 12.06.2011, from Egypt, in:
Ahmad Yaseen
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: "We are not an enemy to women and art" (Photo: CNN)

Summary: In the aftermath of their preliminary victories in the Egyptian parliamentary elections, Islamists are reassuring the Egyptian people and the world that they will protect democracy and freedom of religion. Mahmoud Ghuzlan, the spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood, said to al-Ahram al-Massa’i electronic news website, “We have ambitious plans for the development of all sectors of the state, like health, education, and art.” He denied that there is “a state of hostility against women and art,” as some political parties have claimed following their losses in the elections.

Likewise, after major successes in the first round of the parliamentary elections last week, Egypt’s largest Islamist movement, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which is the political arm of the Islamic Brotherhood, has assured the Western world that they are committed to protecting democracy and religious freedom.  In a meeting with the British ambassador to Egypt, Mohammad Morsy, president of the Freedom and Justice Party said, “The new constitution must protect the rights of all Egyptians, irrespective of their beliefs, race or color.” The FJP dominated the elections last week with 40 percent of the vote, followed by the al-Nour al-Salafi Party with 20 percent.

The Salafist party al-Nour al-Salafi expected their victory in the first phase of the elections, since this victory was mentioned in the Qur’an, according to Mohammad Abdel-Hadi, one of the party leaders. In his campaign for the second phase Abdel-Hadi said, “God for told the results of Egypt’s elections in the Qur’an.” He uses the verse from the Qur’an, “And make them leaders and make them inheritors,” referring to religious Muslims who were oppressed during the former regime. He added, “Under the former regime, Egypt became number one in the world in liver, cancer, and the kidney diseases. It is the time for Egypt to take its true place in the world,” referring to his party’s plan after the elections. It is known that al-Nour Party is one of the most conservative among Islamists in Egypt and that their work is based on a conservative understanding of the principles of the Islamic Law (shari’a).

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, called for the Salafists to change their traditional approach to society. Qaradawi was quoted on an Islamic website saying, “I say to the Salafists, and I know some of them: you are going through a new experience in Egypt, and you don’t know what it entails. You must train yourselves to be patient with others, especially the offenders (al-mukhaalifeen), and to train yourselves to change many of the old ways and methods.”

The general leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Badei’, said in the program “90 Minutes” on al-Mehwar TV, “People are giving us their votes to work to fulfill our hopes for Egypt.” Badei’ stated that Freedom and Justice Party won 40% of the votes, and this percentage is what the Muslim Brotherhood was hoping for in the parliament. He added:

“The Brotherhood supports the mixed system between the presidential and the parliamentary in Egypt, and we don’t want to rule Egypt, but we want to help. There is nothing called the religious state in Islam, and Islam is by itself a civil authority. Our project does not aim to Islamize Egypt, because Egypt is a Muslim country in spite of it all.”

Badei’ assured the Copts that there is nothing in the Muslims Brotherhood’s program against them. To prove that, he said, the Brotherhood included in their candidates’ list a Copt and a woman to enter the new parliament.