Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Islamists Lawyer Muntasir Al-Zayyat discusses the Egyptian elections with Asharq Al-Awsat | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Asharq Al-Awsat, London- The recent parliamentary elections in Egypt, in which the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats, reveal the extent of the group’s popularity and the Egyptian people’s longing for change, according Muntasir al Zayyat, the lawyer representing Islamists in Egypt. This historic gain came as a result of the public’s love for religion and religious individuals, he added.

Al Zayyat indicated that he would not run in the elections again in Bulaq al Dakrur and said, “I will never repeat the experience. The exhausting wretched experience was enough.” If the elections were transparent, the Muslim Brotherhood would have won even more seats, he said.

Speaking to Asharq al Awsat from his office in Cairo, he added. “The public supported the slogan, “Islam is the solution” which I believe is not exclusive to the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an expression of society’s concerns and the public’s support of Islam at a time when the nation fear foreign dangers. Because the Muslim Brotherhood is a strong and deep-rooted organization, it became a convincing alternative for the Egyptian voter.”

Commenting on his experience as a rival to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Bulaq Dakrur, al Zayyat said, “I want to overcome this crisis out of my love for [the Muslim Brotherhood]. I’ve always stated I like the organization but I am not one of them. I hope they feel the same way toward me. However, I am still waiting to be treated fairly.” Al Zayyat was expecting a mediator from the Islamic current or the Muslim Brotherhood itself to intervene between the two sides and improve relations between the two sides.

“The truth is, they have treated me unjustly without any justification. They fought against me much more than the National [Democratic] Party did. I cannot understand why they insisted on competing against me over a single [parliamentary] seat considering all the seats they have won.”

“Officials in the Muslim Brotherhood need to initiate a dialogue with their brothers in other Islamist currents. I have asked for this for some time prior to the recent elections when I supported their plan to visit opposition political parties after the current Supreme Guide, Mohammad Akef, assumed his duties. It is unreasonable for them to seek to mend fences with opposing parties and not their brothers”, al Zayyat said.

Asked about the concern in political circles and especially the Coptic community over the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent victory, al Zayyat indicated, “The Muslim Brotherhood maintains a strong political presence and they use agreed-upon tools. Therefore, those who do not want to resort to the ballot boxes are free to leave if we cannot persuade him to stay in Egypt on our terms and not theirs. [Politicians] have given us a headache for a long time by saying they accept the will of the people. When the people manage to express part of their will, [the politicians] denounce “the Muslim Brotherhood scarecrow”. As for the Copts, we do not need to convince them of the degree of tolerance they enjoy from their Muslim brothers.”

On the unease in church circles surrounding the fate of the Coptic community in Egypt, al Zayyat told Asharq al Awsat, “The real problem in church circles concerns political aspirations more than a religious issue. No Christian can deny the special status enjoyed by the Copts in Egypt. They have built more churches than what is needed for worship. If the Copts want to live in Egypt as citizens enjoying full rights, they must make an effort to convince the Egyptian voter they are entitled to this. However, winning parliamentary seats or ministerial posts through a quota system will not help their cause.” Al Zayyat advised his Christian countrymen to “Get out from under the garb of the regime and co-exist with the rest of the population.”

Turning to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist lawyer advised its members to” avoid arrogance and haughtiness and make an effort to convince others of their modesty and willingness to act as a party amongst other parties. Being aware of one’s power harms that person before others.” They should, “more than any other group, remember that times change; sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”