Religious rule in Egypt is over, says Ahmed Shafiq
Egyptian protestors shout at a soldier standing in an armored personnel carrier as they demonstrate in the streets of the canal city of Port Said. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
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It is “game over” for Islamist rule in Egypt, former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview on Monday.
“Religious rule is no longer viable in Egypt,” he said. “It’s not even religious rule. What’s happening has no ties with religion. This is a mask.”
Islamist rule will last “two years max” from now, said Shafiq, who narrowly lost to Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi in the country’s first democratic presidential elections last year.
“The country can’t afford more than two years in such conditions, as far as the situation stands now,” he added.
“The Brotherhood doesn’t have the capacity to continue for any longer. They’re in their position now by support coming from abroad,” he said, without elaborating.
The Brotherhood saw strong political gains from the downfall of the former regime, in which Shafiq had held the position of prime minister in its dying days.
“The whole world is concerned with Egypt’s current situation. Even the United States, which had supported the Brotherhood’s rise to power, is now considering other options,” he said, referring to different presidential and parliamentary scenarios.
The country’s road to stability should include cancelling the current constitution, and installing a new one overseen by a different constituent assembly “selected on a logical basis,” Shafiq said.
Egyptian opposition parties have widely criticized the current charter, drafted by an Islamist-dominated panel and approved by a referendum in December.
“How can 100 Muslim Brotherhood panellists draft a charter for a country of 80 million people?” he asked, referring to Egypt’s wide spectrum of political and religious ideologies.
‘No more rigging’
The former presidential candidate, who lost with 48.2 percent of the vote and is adamant that the result was rigged by interference from “foreign powers in support of the Brotherhood,” drew out an exit roadmap for the country’s political quagmire.
“After a new constitution is drawn up, there should be new presidential and parliamentary elections, monitored by the United Nations to ensure no vote rigging,” Shafiq said.
When asked to compare today’s Egypt – experiencing civil disobedience, enduring protests and surging crime rates – to the period of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, Shafiq replied: “We can’t deny that the (Mubarak) regime made heavy mistakes, but after less than two years with the new regime (under Mursi), we discovered that there can be no comparison with the mistakes coming from the other side.
“We’re suffering now. The people are protesting because they’re unhappy with the state of the country.
“I have video footage of protesters outside the Republican Palace last week being shot at by snipers … of course these attacks are from the Brotherhood,” he added, saying he has verified his sources.
As an example of the ‘Brotherhood-ization’ of the state, as described by many analysts, Shafiq said when Mursi came to power, the presidency replaced a number of governors across the country with pro-Brotherhood officials, because those provinces did not vote for Mursi.
During the constitutional vote, those who voted against the charter were targeted, suffering from electricity blackouts at home, Shafiq said.
In January, eight new governors were appointed across Egypt, with some coming from the Salafi-oriented Nour Party and the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
In the president’s shoes
When asked how he would react towards the escalating protests if he was in power, Shafiq said he would “work in favor of the public,” adding: “If the people were satisfied and their situations were better, they wouldn’t continue protesting.
“This is resistance to the suffering we’re living in. Everything has stopped now in Egypt,” he said, referring to the economy.
“If the government was doing enough for (the protesters), the situation would never be like that …You can’t imagine how much the Brotherhood are lacking in experience.”
Would Shafiq ever run for president again? “Yes, if the Egyptian people want me to run again, I will,” he replied.
Last September, Shafiq announced that he was launching the Egyptian Patriotic Movement.
The aim of the new party “seeks to create a balanced community that accepts diversity, is open to the world, protects Egypt, aspires to peace, and believes Egypt is for everybody,” Shafiq had said via Twitter.
However, the former prime minister told Al Arabiya that he is “not keen on running the movement,” adding: “Frankly speaking, I don’t want to lead a movement. I have joint positions with my colleagues, stabilizing the movement, but I’m just a member.”
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