Monday 9 April 2012

Quotes From Khairat Al-Shater's First Interview As A Presidential Candidate

(Note: let me start by apologising for not updating the blog more often. I have been genuinely busy with work lately, but I have been making up for that on Twitter.)

Khairat Al-Shater, (now former) deputy guide of the MB and the Brotherhood's leading Presidential Candidate (with the head of the FJP Dr. Mohammed Morsy serving as an additional candidate by the Brotherhood and the FJP) gave his first interview as a Presidential Candidate to television today, appearing on Amr Al-Laithy's 90 Minutes TV Show on Al-Mehwar TV. I live-tweeted quotes from the interview, after missing apparently the introductory segment of the episode. Below are copies of those tweets, with varying edits.

Please do note that I have tried to be as close to the original Arabic as much as possible, but I am paraphrasing in many of these tweets (for the sake of brevity) and I in no way assure you that this is necessarily a 100% accurate translation. I also have the natural concern that the accuracy of these quotations might have been affected in any one way or another by my attempts to capture as many quotes as possible.

Thankfully, many people on Twitter have generously went through my tweets and confirmed the accuracy of their contents while they were watching the interview as well, indicating that they do reflect what has been said. Nevertheless, I invite everyone to review them as well and suggest any corrections that myself and others might have missed. I thus discourage any media using them as actual quotations. These are mainly for personal informal reference.

(Edit: for a more complete view of what he said, I have translated some of what Shorouk News have quoted him as saying from their timeline. Quotes sourced from Shorouk News will have SN before them)

- SN Khairat Al-Shater: there is evidence the weakness of the Ganzoury government, and investors have complained to us about it.

- Khairat Al-Shater: I was saddened by the assassination of (Anwar) Sadat, and the MB is against assassinations, based on its understanding of Islam.

- Al-Shater: I chose the MB (as a young man) because, away from the vicious smears by the Mubarak regime, it is a vision for the renaissance of the nation, a vision for a renaissance with an Islamic reference.

- Al-Shater: fate willed that Mubarak's men found themselves now in the same jail cell that I was in, Mubarak's sons in the cell opposite.

- Al-Shater: 100,000 MB members were jailed during the time of Mubarak.

- Al-Shater saying passingly that there will be a new "stable" Egyptian government on the 30th of June.

- Al-Shater: why Al-Shater in particular was selected as the MB's presidential candidate? That is something to ask the MB about, not me. They chose me as their candidate. (significant paraphrasing here for brevity)

- Al-Shater: didn't expect to be MB's candidate. But the high institutions of the MB selected me. And my dream is to serve the Renaissance project.

- Al-Shater: "I did" - when asked if he cried when found out he was chosen as the MB's candidate, as per the rumours.

- Al-Shater: I accepted the role of Presidential candidate of the MB because the Shura Council of the MB decided on what it saw to be best. (For the MB, for the country)

- Al-Shater: there are 123 members in the Shura/Consultative council of the MB.

- Al-Shater: both the MB and the FJP selected me as their presidential candidate. 

- Al-Shater: I originally planned to retire public work after crossing the age of 60, and leave my position for the youth. I am currently 62.

- SN Al-Shater: The Brotherhood and its Guidance office and Khairat Al-Shater are all in the service of Egypt.

- Al-Shater, when asked if his allegiance will be to MB Guide (currently Mohammed Badie') if he becomes President: A president's allegiance is to the people, constitution, and law.

- Al-Shater: Sunnis don't have the same understanding of a theocracy like the Shia, who have a model similar to European theocracies of the Middle Ages.

- Al-Shater: I don't do any business with the MB's money. All my work is done with my own finances.

- Al-Shater: I have never worked as a currency trader in any time of my life (responding to allegations.)

- Al-Shater: military court found out back then that my businesses were actually worth 25 million pounds, not 400 million as said by Mubarak's investigators. The current market value might be higher now of course.

- Al-Shater: Dr. Mohammed Morsy ran for President as well because we both represent the MB's project, and the current climate is very dangerous & unstable (he then says that he wasn't threatened with assassination, but that apparently some other candidate said he received threats.)

- Al-Shater: I could have been released by a year and a half earlier from Jail on medical grounds, but I decided not to leave my jailed comrades.

- Al-Shater: there were no such "deals" between us and the regime or SCAF during the days of the revolution (referring to allegations by former MB member Mohammed Habib and others)

- Al-Shater: my second verdict was "cancelled" altogether, so I don't have any legal roadblocks to my nomination.

- Al-Shater: Mohammed Morsy is not my backup, nor am I his. We are both equally in these elections together. One of us will back the other in the end.

- Al-Shater: I am not sure that Omar Soleiman actually said MB threatened him with assassination. Egyptian media can twist words sometimes. (He also says that the MB is against violence and assassinations.)

- Al-Shater: we (MB) do not get any financial aid from Qatar or others. Our finances come from member contributions only.

- Al-Shater: "I swear" I didn't know I would become the candidate (I think he meant he didn't know with certainty) until after the final meeting of the MB Shura Council.

- The show is claiming on the news bar that Al-Shater said Omar Soleiman would only win with electoral fraud. I didn't personally hear it. (People on Twitter later confirmed they heard him say it, then said that he stated that he wasn't saying that Fraud is going to happen.)

- Al-Shater: we cannot get a (political and economic) model from elsewhere and just apply it to Egypt. (He then referred to "successful experiences" in Turkey, Malaysia and others.)

- Al-Shater spent a long time setting an introduction when asked about his relationship with the Prince of Qatar, before delving into the answering.

- Al-Shater: we (MB) are looking for relationships with all countries for the benefit of Egypt, not just Qatar.

- Al-Shater: prince of Qatar did not ask to rent the Suez Canal for as per the entirely fabricated story.

- Al-Shater: Mubarak's policy was "divide and conquer."

- Al-Shater: Of course not! (When asked if the MB will ever impose the Jizya, a form of religious taxation, on non-Muslims in Egypt)

- SN Al-Shater: copts are partners in the nation.

- Al-Shater: no, I don't object. (When asked if he objected to having a female or a copt as a vice president)

- Al-Shater: role of President must be institutionalised, and the most qualified person would hold this office and institution. And no person will ever rule the country alone again (when asked about copts becoming presidents)

- Al-Shater: all what is said about my relationship with US's highly exaggerated; and they didn't express any comfort or discomfort with my nomination.

- Al-Shater: the U.S. is still in the exploratory phase in dealing with us. The Europeans and Asians have already went beyond that phase. (This is from memory, not from a tweet I wrote)

- Al-Shater: unlike what was said, the US delegation only discussed relations with US, the constitution, but not the Camp David treaty.

- Al-Shater: we respect all Egypt's treaties, with Israel and others. Egypt is a country of institutions, and we cannot enforce any singular or personal view. There are institutional mechanisms for the enactment or review of any treaties.

- Al-Shater: we will maintain any treaty that benefits Egypt and its national and regional security, overturn any that don't.

- Al-Shater: we are dedicated to the Palestinian cause and to the rights of the Palestinian people.

- Al-Shater: our relationship with SCAF is determined by how they help or don't help in furthering the goals of the revolution. 

- Al-Shater: when SCAF tried to enforce the Selmi Supra-Constitutional principles document, we did two separate "million-man" marches against it. (Again, this is mainly from memory, not based on a tweet)

- Al-Shater: I don't have any problems with Abdel-Mon'eim Abul-Fotouh, and I wasn't behind him being expelled from the MB. I wish him good luck.

- Al-Shater: we want Egypt to be an influential economy in the world within 10-15 years.

- Al-Shater: we want to develop the service sector, and bring peace to all sectarian and societal unrest, as a backdrop for growth.

- Al-Shater: we're not for or against reconciling with the previous regime. (Then says there needs to be middle-ground answers for each case, to ensure societal peace as well as the return of rights to the people)

- Al-Shater: No, I don't think at the moment that I might withdraw for any other Islamist candidate. This is mainly the MB's decision though.

- Al-Shater: I am not against arts or cinema or music, but I have no time for hobbies due to my daily strains and pressures. -

- Al-Shater: "No", when asked if a book could be banned in his presidency. Then he added: "the rule in Islam is that there is no compulsion in religion."

- Al-Shater: I have no objections in principle (when asked if he would accept a live debate with Abul-Fotouh)

- Al-Shater: (I'm paraphrasing) "up to the people's will, not up to me" (when asked if he would possibly pardon Mubarak if he becomes President)

- Al-Shater: we only have 37 members of the FJP in the Constituent Assembly. We are not trying to dominate the constitution0writing process. If we were, we could have chosen a list of 100 FJP members for the Constituent Assembly.

- Al-Shater: I refuse (as is being done as of late by some of his supporters) comparisons with the Prophet Joseph. He is a prophet (referring to the religiously exalted status of prophets, indicating he is just a human being in comparison. I did not hear this part, and this is what the channel's newsbar and people on Twitter say that he said)

- Al-Shater: I regret not smiling more often, because of the heavy burdens I feel.

Finally, when asked about whether or not he and the MB would implement Shari'a, Al-Shater tried to provide an answer that he represented what he saw as the complexity of the Shar'ia project. The TV host kept hammering him to say either Yes or No, but Al-Shater was adamant in trying to explain why the answer to this question was a more complicated manner than a mere Yes and No answer. The host then pushed him to say "Yes", but I feel the host conducted poorly this question, and never gave a proper chance for Al-Shater to present his detailed view of how he saw the idea of the implementation of Shari'a.

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