Dr Essam al-Arian is the vice chairman of Egypt’s Freedom And Justice party and formerly he was a member of the Guidance Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was elected as a parliament member in the 2011-2012 Egyptian parliamentary elections but after the recent coup prosecutors ordered his arrest and his assets to be frozen. In this interview with Roshan Muhammed Salih in Cairo al-Arian vows to die for the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood.
RMS: There has been a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since the miltary deposed President Morsi a few weeks ago. Arrest warrants have been issued for ikhwaan leaders and financial assets have been frozen. What’s your reaction to this?
EA: There has been a crackdown on the country as a whole and not just the Muslim Brotherhood. Our country has been stolen by military generals. It’s a dictatorship now and what we have just witnessed is a military coup and a coup against the constitution. This is the most important thing to understand, we are not worried about ourselves at all.
RMS: A lot of Muslim Brotherhood supporters are dying in clashes with the army. Will you keep protesting despite the fact that you know it’s highly probable that more people will die?
EA: That is the price you pay for a revolution. Since the January 25, 2011 revolution we have had 1,500 martyrs. And that revolution continues so that we can establish a country according to democratic rule.
RMS: Do you really believe that Mohammed Morsi will be re-instated as president? Surely it’s obvious that a definitive decision has been taken and he won’t return?
EA: The only decision that is important is the decision of the people. Many countries have had military coups in the past but they have been defeated.
RMS: But the Egyptian people are clearly divided so isn’t it misleading to talk of them as if they are one people?
EA: Every nation has divisions but these divisions can only be regulated by the ballot box.
RMS: But the military says it has prevented civil war and chaos following unprecedented popular demonstrations against Morsi.
EA: The military has not prevented chaos, it has caused it. There is no security, no stability, there is a deterioration in the economy and we now have a fascist regime in place. The only solution is a return to the elected president – Mohammed Morsi. And all free nations must accept this.
RMS: What do you make of the somewhat ambiguous attitude of the West to the recent events in Egypt?
EA: We don’t seek conflict with any outside power. We don’t want anybody’s help or assistance but we do want them to cooperate with us and to recognise Egypt as an independent nation. We believe in majority rule where minorities have the same rights as the majority. And we don’t want any interference in our domestic affairs.
RMS: You obviously have lots of supporters in Egypt but you also have lots of people who oppose you. How are you going to win those people over?
EA: The vast majority of Egyptians support the democratic goals of the January 25, 2011 revolution. And our main goal now is to convince all Egyptians that this revolution was stolen from them by the military and we now have to go back to those original goals.
RMS: Some people say that the Muslim Brotherhood should now just withdraw from politics and go back to doing what it was very good at – providing services to the poor and giving daw’ah.
EA: We distribute values and ideas, we are not a charity organisation. Yes, that is one of our tools but our main goal is to teach people that Islam is a way of life and we will live and die for this ideal.