Sondos Asem began by stating that the FJP delegation was in the U.S. to build bridges of understanding, given the important role of America in the region. All Egyptians suffered under Mubarak; 30 percent of Egyptians live beneath the poverty line, illiteracy is high, and there is deeply-entrenched corruption. The FJP stands by the revolution’s goals of freedom, dignity, democracy, and justice. Abdul Mawgoud Dardery continued, stating that Egypt’s revolution acted against dictatorship and corruption. It was not targeting an individual, but rather a whole regime. The FJP embraces a value system that views the family as the basis of a healthy society, Dardery said. The FJP’s faith system stands against extremism. On economic matters, the FJP supports private enterprise that promotes opportunity for all, and wants to see Egypt enter the global economy. The state should empower citizens, not control them. The FJP’s goal, Dardery said, is for all Egyptians to have access to clean water, food, schools, and hospitals. People should have no fear of speaking in opposition to the regime, and there should be a balance between society and government.
One questioner said the constitution should not be written by the majority party only, and that members of the Constituent Assembly, tasked with writing the new Egyptian constitution, should not come from within parliament.
Abdul Mawgoud Dardery replied that given the number of seats the FJP won in parliamentary elections, the FJP is actually under-represented in Assembly. Dardery also claimed that the FJP had taken a moderate position between two extremes – it was a good sign that both Al-Azhar’s representatives on the committee and the liberals were unhappy with the situation. Khaled Al-Qazzaz added that the process of selecting Assembly members was done democratically since all members were approved by parliament.
Another guest asked why the Muslim Brotherhood kept changing its position on issues, and pointed to the nomination of Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater for the presidency and their expulsion of former Brotherhood Activist Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh. Hussein El-Kazzaz replied that the FJP realized that if it governed poorly or violated their promises then it would be voted out of office. The reason El-Kazzaz gave for the al-Shater’s nomination was that the party had been in discussions with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who told the FJP that their reign in Egypt ends with the parliament – they would have no more than a symbolic role in the government ministries and cabinet positions. Because the SCAF prevented the FJP from forming a coalition government, based on their success in parliamentary elections, the party decided to run for president to ensure they would not be forced out of the executive branch. Khaled Al-Qazzaz explained that Abouel Fotouh decided to violate an official policy of the FJP and Muslim Brotherhood at the time, that this was his choice to exercise his political rights, but that the FJP also had a right to enforce its policy. El-Kazzaz added that Egypt faced a “different reality” from ten months ago.Another question involved foreign funding for political activity, and whether the FJP would make the sources of its funding available and transparent. Al-Qazzaz replied that because of the Muslim Brotherhood’s huge membership and donations from outside the party, it did not have a funding problem. Al-Qazzaz added that while foreign funding of organizations such as nongovernmental organizations was allowed, it had to be completely transparent.
Dardery affirmed that the FJP would make the sources of its funding available to the public, and that the FJP supported freedom of information generally. When asked about what the FJP was doing to promote political activity among women, Sondos Asem replied that the party was not happy about women’s representation in the parliament, and claimed that the FJP fielded more female candidates than any other party. Part of the FJP platform was researching and addressing violations of women’s rights, Asem said.Another guest brought up the issue of discrimination against Christians, pointing out that in many Muslim-majority nations Christians were oppressed, their churches burned, and restrictions placed upon the building of houses of worship. Dardery replied that both Muslims and Christians suffered under the Mubarak regime, and said that 80 percent of the Coptic Christians who voted in Luxor voted for him.
He referenced the “Spanish experience,” when Muslims ruled the Iberian peninsula over a large Christian population at the height of the Islamic empire. Professor John Esposito asked about the FJP’s desire to establish an Islamic state, and what that would entail. Dardery answered, saying that the distinction between an Islamic state and a Muslim state was “academic.” An Islamic state welcomed non-Muslims, while a Muslim state was for Muslims only. Dardery added that the FJP wanted to apply Islamic Law “principles, which were concerned with outcomes, rather than “rulings,” which were limited in time and place. Dardery affirmed that the FJP did support lifting restrictions on building churches and other houses of worship.Responding to a similar question about the Islamic “Caliphate,” al-Qazzaz said that there was a misunderstanding about what this term meant, and its meaning was closer to alliances like the European Union and the United States, which are based on common characteristics, values, and beliefs. Another question asked whether the FJP supported an individual’s right to criticize or doubt Islam. Dardery said that religion is a human choice, and that according to Islam one cannot impose that choice upon another individual. A party must be able to accept criticism in politics, which will be a constant reality. Dardery went on to say that the FJP’s goal was to present a “Muslim alternative,” and that the Egyptian experience in democracy was an experiment.
- The Muslim Brotherhoods Charm Campaign in Washington (iamiranaware.wordpress.com)
- Muslim Brotherhood Delegation Visits D.C. (npr.org)
- Hamas’ Parent Comes to America (counterjihadreport.com)
- Obama welcomes Muslim Brotherhood in the White House (creepingsharia.wordpress.com)