Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mahdi Akef denounced the counter-protest carried out by Brotherhood supporters on Wednesday outside the presidential palace in Cairo. This protest aimed to confront the “revolutionary” protests that have been launched against Egyptian President Mursi following his controversial constitutional declaration and draft constitution. This counter-march resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, the former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide stressed that “their march to the vicinity of the presidential palace was wrong.”
However Akef refused to hold the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for the violence that erupted outside the presidential palace, saying “the Brotherhood mobilized everybody in the belief that this would protect the presidential palace, after watching the attacks on the palace.” He also strongly denied that Brotherhood supporters were armed with weapons, including Molotov cocktails, stressing “they did not attack anybody; they were the ones who were attacked.”
As for press reports that it was the Muslim Brotherhood protesters who attacked the revolutionaries outside the presidential palace, the former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide said “I know the brothers well, and they did not attack anybody, rather it was a third party that attacked both the Brotherhood and the revolutionaries.”
He added “the real revolutionaries did not attack the Brotherhood supporters; however some parties were hired to do so.”
Akef told Asharq Al-Awsat that “those who set fire to Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party headquarters in Egypt’s provinces were not from the revolutionaries, rather they were hired by the former regime, in the belief that this will create chaos that will return them to glory, however this is a complete delusion.”
The former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide described the general state of affairs in Egypt by saying, “there is an insistence on the absurd, and these demonstrations are absurd”. He stressed that the Egyptian people “need all of us to work together for their sake, and for the stability of state institutions” adding “as for these demonstrations and unrest, I do not agree with it or support it.”
Akef criticized the insistence of some parties to demonstrate and protest, saying “they have insisted on this position in a manner that is harmful to Egypt”.
Regarding the fate of Egypt’s draft constitution, Akef said “the new constitution is great and I stayed up the whole night reading this constitution, article by article. This is something that honors Egypt, and it is the greatest constitution that Egypt has seen.” As for its opponents, he said “those who do not like a certain constitutional article can amend this at a later date.”
Akef also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he had tried to contact Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi to advise him to speak directly to the Egyptian people and stress that the objective of the constitutional declaration is to foster and strengthen Egyptian state institutes and national stability. He revealed “I have not received any response, and nobody is willing to transfer anything to him [Mursi], and I do not know how to get in touch with him.”
He added “my goal from this was for the president to come out and send his message, saying ‘my objective is to establish institutes and stability in Egypt, and anybody who assists me in this endeavor is welcome, whilst anybody who does not assist me is also free to do so.”
President Mursi lately issued a speech addressing the Egyptian people calling for national dialogue to resolve the crisis. He said “I call for a full productive dialogue with all figures and heads of parties, revolutionary youth and senior legal figures.” The national dialogue was scheduled for Saturday, although it was unclear just who would take part in this, with many opposition forces refusing to do so.
As for his vision for the future of Egypt, former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mahdi Akef said “Egypt is moving towards a renaissance; Egypt is great and nobody can stand in the face of its people.” He expressed his confidence in Egypt’s ability to overcome the crisis, stressing that the current situation is not a cause for concern, and that the major objective of this is to stop Egypt moving towards renaissance and stability.
He also strongly denied quotes, attributed to him by the press, that senior Muslim Brotherhood figure, Khairat al-Shater, had issued direct instructions to Brotherhood members to take to the streets. He stressed that “this is a complete lie”. These reports gained traction in the media after Ibrahim al-Hudaybi – grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s second General Guide – claimed that Akef had told him that al-Shater was responsible for this decision.