Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt and the ElBaradei Dilemma | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Immediately after his return to Egypt, Mohamed ElBaradei began to ride the wave of the upcoming Egyptian presidential elections, and numerous parties grabbed onto him based on the consideration that he is an international front. However it is clear today that the wave has become too high for ElBaradei – higher than he expected – and as a result he might drown in the corridors of Egyptian politics.

The simplest example is the upheaval caused by the Muslim Brotherhood regarding the statements attributed to Dr. ElBaradei in an interview with a French magazine in which he was quoted as saying in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, “You can practice your religion and wear what you want and wear the Niqab, however you must respect the right of others to live differently.” It was also claimed that he said that he convinced the Muslim Brotherhood to work towards justice, democracy and a secular state.

However, ElBaradei denied the aforementioned [quotes] and said that the translation was inaccurate, according to the official Muslim Brotherhood website. In fact, Dr. Saad Katatni explained that he received a phone call from ElBaradei during which he denied the statements that were attributed to him, especially the part about convincing the Muslim Brotherhood of [working towards] a secular state. He added that ElBaradei highlighted that he sent a correction to the publication that carried the news, confirming that the meeting with Katatni “dealt with numerous issues particular to reform, democracy, the Brotherhood’s opinion of it, and that the Muslim Brotherhood actually confirmed its call for a civil state with Islamic references based on the consideration that the state in Islam is fundamentally civil, and that he is convinced that the secular state is what achieves the participation of all with freedom and democracy, and he did not say that he convinced the Muslim Brotherhood of that.”

The question here is not who convinced who but rather will Dr. ElBaradei accept an alliance or an agreement or even a truce with a group that wants to exclude an existing and important sect in Egypt, such as the Copts for example? Will ElBaradei, who has international weight, accept being a front for a religious party?

Some might say that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t entirely support ElBaradei, or that it is not allied to him, but the Muslim Brotherhood has representation in ElBaradei’s assembly and that’s not all; the Brotherhood website highlighted ElBaradei’s denial and added praise for the Muslim Brotherhood from ElBaradei as he gave his justification for meeting with its Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Cairo, as the website quoted ElBaradei as saying to the French magazine that the Muslim Brotherhood is “the main political force in Egypt and despite the limitations imposed upon it, it was able to gain 20 percent of the seats in the Egyptian People’s Assembly, and it cares for a large number of under privileged people and educates and protects them in mosques.”

Therefore, the question is does ElBaradei believe in a secular civil state that believes in everybody’s right to life, or is he accepting of a group that brought about injecting religion in politics and has its own goals and approach that are harmful to Egypt, such as its vision of peace and war and international conventions, and above all its position towards coexistence between all Egyptians, especially as the civil state in Egypt is an important and decisive matter that should not be exploited in order to achieve personal gains regardless of their size, at least so that the mistakes of the past from which Egypt is still suffering are not repeated?

Therefore, ElBaradei is in a real dilemma today both internally and externally.