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Bishr: Brotherhood Endeavoring for All-Inclusive National Drive with Popular Approval
Bishr: Brotherhood Endeavoring for All-Inclusive National Drive with Popular Approval
Leading Anti-Coup National Alliance member Dr. Bishr reaffirms the group’s wish for dialogue and reconciliation based on a full reinstatement of constitutional legitimacy.
Thursday, November 28,2013 20:11

On Friday November 22, 2013, leading member of Egypt’s Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy Alliance Dr. Mohamed Bishr gave an extensive interview to the Freedom and Justice Newspaper, which discussed the Alliance's strategic vision released November 16, and answered some of the questions raised about it. The following is an edited translation of that. Original interview text (in Arabic) can be found on this link:


Dr. Mohamed Bishr, former Local Development Minister and leading member of both Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance, said that any proposal to resolve the Egyptian crisis must be through a decision by President Mohamed Morsi, and in line with the people's will, and that there could be no dialogue with the coup commanders or the military-installed government.

Dr. Bishr added: "We see that the crisis in Egypt is between two parties: One of them is defending the January 25 Revolution, its gains and its objectives, and the other wants to drag the country back to the repressive regime of the deposed Mubarak, albeit in a new guise".

Dr. Bishr clarified that the strategic vision put forward by the Alliance is not an initiative, but the Alliance's vision addressed to the people, not to the military-appointed government, the military council generals, or whoever participated in the coup and still thinks it was the correct decision.

Dr. Bishr considered those who participated in the coup to be one of two types. The first participated initially due to differences with President Mohamed Morsi, then after four months realized that their revolt changed nothing, it would abort the country’s democratic transformation, and would not bring an atmosphere of freedoms, but instead would bring back the militarized repression and persecution of the era before January 25, and that Egypt is in fact being taken back to the Mubarak regime. Those are rethinking their viewpoint of the coup, and are welcome to return, after discovering the truth – that the coup would not fulfill their demands.

"Here, we must distinguish between the participants of June 30 demonstrations, and those who went out demanding early presidential elections or a referendum on impeaching President Morsi, but did not want to depose the president, suspend the constitution, dissolve the Shura Council (Upper House), nor did they want the violence which occurred on July 3. This type realized, after the coup, that the army is asking for a mandate to kill Egyptian people, and saw the police clearing sit-ins by force, killing peaceful protesters and burning bodies. They changed their opinions. Those we welcome.

"Whoever participated in the coup, whoever wants its crimes to continue, strives to destroy Egypt and take it back to dark times of oppression, have nothing to do with the dialogue."

Dr. Bishr clarified that the strategic vision represents a first step in the mediation announced previously, headed by former vice-president Mohamed Makki.

"We presented our vision, defining our view of the crisis, our guiding values and our view of the solution. Therefore, this vision represents a starting point and an introduction for any mediators. We reiterate that we accept any mediation based on points and values mentioned in the strategy."

He denied that the coming referendum would cloak the issue with legitimacy, saying: "The putschists imagine that the solution for 'legitimacy' will be through a referendum on their constitution, but that will not resolve the crisis.

"All their actions and processes are illegitimate. Who will call the referendum? The interim president installed by the military after the coup is illegitimate because he was appointed by a minister in a government appointed by President Morsi.  How can a minister, after appointing the president, give the oath of office in front of the same president he himself appointed?

"All these procedures are null and void. According to the constitution, a president's tenure does not end except in one of three ways: death, resignation or the end of term, and none of these occurred with President Morsi."

Dr. Bishr continued: "It must be taken into account that the President has become a leader and a symbol of legitimacy, and that he has been elected for a full term. But discussion is possible regarding a mechanism through which the demands of those who went out on June 30th can be met, whether by the president stepping down or transferring his authority, through constitutional mechanisms and with the president's complete approval and free will. In the end, all these suggestions are subject to the people's will and approval or rejection through accepted democratic mechanisms.

"We adopt President Morsi's roadmap in which the House of Representatives would be elected within two months. That would then address the modifications to the constitution as well as early elections or a referendum on the president remaining in office. At that point, it would be the Egyptian people's decision."

He went on, saying: "The people had no say in the coup’s roadmap. The coup commanders did not take the people's opinion on the roadmap announced on July 3rd. The people who went out on June 30th had no knowledge of it, and so it has no legitimacy. They executed a coup against popular will".

He expressed acceptance of a referendum on both Morsi's and El-Sisi's roadmaps, with prior approval from President Morsi, as a solution to the crisis.

Dr. Bishr said: "We accept the Egyptian people's opinion. So, instead of holding a referendum on the oppressive and void constitution – if President Morsi sees this as an honorable solution to the crisis – we can hold a referendum on both roadmaps. Let both roadmaps be offered to the people. Whatever the people choose is compulsory for us. In this situation, it would be the people who have chosen between the roadmaps, and I will accept their choice if they choose El-Sisi's, as long as the choice is free and fair".

Dr. Bishr mentioned several conditions for this suggestion:

            ⁃          Real guarantees for the fairness and neutrality of a referendum on the roadmaps.

            ⁃          An atmosphere of political freedom, as that present before the 2012 referendum. This is an atmosphere that would allow dialogues and the expression of opinions by – for example – reopening the satellite TV channels that the coup generals shuttered.

            ⁃          Immediate release of political detainees, so there is no political enmity.

            ⁃          Real fact-finding committees must also be set up to investigate the crimes committed during the last few months.

All of which should reassure the people that there is an atmosphere of freedom and expression of opinion.

Dr. Bishr further said: "Compromises can be accepted regarding the rights of parties and groups, but not those of the people or the martyrs. It must be reaffirmed that there will be no compromise regarding the electoral legitimacy for which people rose up in the Revolution. That is completely unacceptable.

"Here, we are speaking of reinstatement of the People’s Assembly (lower house of parliament), as part of the complete legitimacy, because it was dissolved by a political decision, not a legal one. At the time, a report by the Supreme Constitutional Court’s commissioners approved the dissolution of one third of the Assembly, but it was dissolved completely even though 32 million people had participated in the vote."

Dr. Bishr affirmed that neither the military-installed government, nor the military council responded to any initiatives presented by the National Alliance, believing that a referendum over their constitution covers the issue of constitutional legitimacy which they violated – a false, incorrect belief.

Regarding the Alliance’s final position toward the referendum on the coup’s amendments to the constitution, Bishr said: "We have not decided on a final position. If this goes to a referendum, it will certainly be rejected. In any case, the coup regime does not have any idea about what would happen if the people reject the amendments in the referendum. This contrasts sharply with President Morsi when he received the Constitution from Justice Hossam Ghariani, then Chairman of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 2012 Constitution. Dr. Morsi then detailed scenarios as to what would happen if the vote was yes or no.

"Here I do not find an answer to the question: 'What if the people said no to constitutional amendments?' You cannot find an answer. Because the putschists drew a path for approval only, in preparation for rigging the referendum to get an assured yes vote only. The military-installed Foreign Minister announced the dates of the elections that should follow the referendum, assuming the people already said yes. He is totally indifferent to the opinion of the people in all circumstances."

Returning to the subject of concessions, Bishr said: "It is possible to make concessions – as we did before – in the next elections. We may not run for all the seats, for example.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is always re-considering its positions and strategies. We always review situations with a view to serving the common good, like we did in the 2010 parliamentary elections. We fought in the first phase of the elections. But when it was evidently rigged, we withdrew from the second phase.

"Talking about errors to be corrected, however, requires a comprehensive review by all parties. All those who participated in recent events, of all political currents, have to review their positions and correct their mistakes, with the aim of reconciliation. Do not ask the Brotherhood alone to review their positions and leave others. We call on everyone to review their stances and experiences since the January 25 Revolution, in order to base all re-building efforts on sound foundations that achieve the Revolution’s objectives."

He accused coup authorities of disrupting the work of review committees, which the group was setting up to consider – in an institutional manner – the outcome of the past two years: the Brotherhood’s stances, the revolution, President Morsi’s rule and the subsequent events.

Bishr added: "Everyone should be aware that we are all in the same boat. We seek to start an all-inclusive national drive for Egypt that excludes no faction, group or movement. Afterwards, we can have political competition through the ballot box – after the country’s political parties get stronger, with the participation of revolutionary youth.

"Now, there's a real opportunity to work together, when everyone give up their rights for the country’s common good, and in order to get over the current crisis.

Regarding the dialogue proposed in the name of the Alliance, Bishr said: "We allowed a two-week window, inviting all the Egyptian people, communicating with all parties, youth, revolutionary movements, trade unions, university professors and research centers which could tell us about useful experiences of other nations in similar situations to where we are in Egypt, so we can start dialogues among the components of the whole society.

"The Alliance itself will have an internal dialogue. It will tell the grassroots about its vision, and hear what they have to say, so the nature of the crisis and the way to resolve it should become clear through consultation – youths among themselves, trade unionists too, and university professors, politicians and political parties. Then, we will collect their ideas. Thus, the idea for a national and comprehensive dialogue should be developed with the participation of a large number of people, which would help achieve greater national harmony and unity."

Bishr affirmed that: "Our vision is not just about the past but the future as well, taking into account constitutional legitimacy and guarantees that ensure that the democratic process cannot be disrupted in the future, as well as the observance of human rights, public freedoms, freedom of the media, and the right of the martyrs and the injured in all the Revolution’s actions and events since January 25.

"We will not forgo retribution for the martyrs. This is a very serious matter. We cannot abandon or compromise it under any circumstances. President Morsi stressed that. We reaffirm the same."

With regard to coup authorities allowing such a dialogue, Bishr said: "We’re not waiting for their consent. We announced our invitation to all for a national dialogue. We do not necessarily have to mass in physical meetings. Dialogue can be made through e-mail, social networking websites and forums and so on. We do not wait for permissions when it comes to working for the nation’s future that must be shared by all.

On the possibility of communicating with Church leaders to join the dialogue, Bishr said: "This is not difficult for the Alliance, as it works for Egypt our one homeland, especially since there are Christians who are not satisfied with the current situation. We are already in contact with our Christian brothers, many of whom are keen to serve the homeland".

However, Bishr affirmed that the Alliance did not receive any communication from the Church about the vision, and that the Alliance was yet to authorize formal contact with the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

"There are individuals such as 'Christians Against The Coup' – as well as – researchers and politicians, who support the Alliance. We cannot exclude Christians. They read the scene accurately. They love Egypt and care for it."

Regarding the military establishment and the possibility of a dialogue with it, Bishr said: "This is not excluded, of course. We invite all institutions, including the judiciary, the military and Al-Azhar. We have no quarrel with any of them. In fact, we deeply appreciate and value these institutions. We do disagree with the position, vision and mistakes of a certain leader or leaders within these institutions. Thus our dispute with General Sisi - in the military establishment, for example, is that the crisis had to be resolved in a number of ways far from killing the people and overthrowing democratic and constitutional legitimacy. And he has just revealed he intends to run for president".

Bishr said, "The military should review its actions and procedures, and its leaders’ stances in killing the Egyptian people and overturning constitutional legitimacy. I expect it to do this soon.

"When the Interior Ministry, the government and the military establishment review their actions, they should come back to a real dialogue on common ground – even if it is through mediation – until we reach a formula acceptable to all, after excluding those whose hands are stained with Egyptian blood."

On the Alliance’s position regarding President Morsi, Bishr said: "We published the vision document so as to affirm the foundations and principles on which any dialogue must be based. In that, we underline our support for constitutional legitimacy which includes the President and the Shura Council, and most importantly the Constitution.

"We have no right to sidestep President Morsi, because he was elected by the people. No-one has the right to sidestep popular will. Indeed, we must build on this will, take constitutional action and think about the future.

"We are committed to reinstatement of the Constitution, the Parliament’s Upper House (Shura Council) and President Morsi, who has become a symbol of constitutional and legal legitimacy. We are also committed to the People’s Assembly (lower house), and all the elections held since the January 2011 Revolution."

Regarding the results of meetings with Western delegations, Bishr said: "Egypt needs an Egyptian solution. In our meetings with all the delegations that asked for our meeting – we never sought to meet anyone – after we explained to them our vision, we emphasized our rejection of foreign interference in Egyptian affairs. All they offered was to create a favorable climate, in terms of human rights, all-inclusive dialogue and a return to the democratic path.

"In our meeting with those delegations, we explain our point of view so world public opinion should not listen to the point of view of the putschists alone, which would distort our image."


tags: Anti-Coup / Egypt / President / Morsi / Pro-Legitimacy / National Alliance / Military Coup / Egyptian People / El-Sisi / Rabaa / Revolutionaries / Bishr
Posted in EGYPT  
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