U.K. media is reporting that Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, the favored Egyptian presidential candidate of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, is also “moving to the right” as the election nears. According to a Daily Telegraph report:
Mr Aboul Fotouh says he wants a pluralist political system and that under Sharia no one can be forced to adopt a Muslim lifestyle, such as, for women, wearing the headscarf. His moderate stance and record of opposing Mr Mubarak has won the support of many liberals. ’He is someone who can be extremely powerful in bridging the divide between Islamists and non-Islamists,’ said Hossam Bahgat, head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the country’s best-known activists. But as the Brotherhood’s formidable grass-roots organisation has swung into gear, Mr Aboul Fotouh has changed his tone. At a rally in the Nile Delta, a lower-middle class Brotherhood heartland, he devoted much of his speech to conservative views of the role of women. ‘Egyptian women teach the younger generation to kiss the heads of their fathers,’ he said. ‘They devote themselves to their family.’ Western countries had ‘neglected’ family life, he said. ‘They have opened up society to commit all sins – sex, drink, everything,’ he said. ‘We are all soldiers in the project of Islam,’ he went on to say. Mr Aboul Fotouh’s shift began about the time he won the endorsement of the ultraconservative Salafi movement, which took more than 20 per cent of the vote in December’s parliamentary elections. Last week, he said he would close down Egypt’s indigenous alcohol industry, which produces wine and beer. Although no candidate wants to ban alcohol outright, as in Saudi Arabia, Salafis have demanded its sale be stopped, allowing Christians to consume it only in their homes. ’Yes, I know that 8 per cent of the state budget comes from alcohol taxes, but we as Egyptians are in need of other industries such as technology and the needs of the army,’ he told a television interviewer.”
A post from yesterday discussed an AP report on a recent campaign rally for the Egyptian Brotherhood’s official candidate that featured calls for an Islamic Caliphate with its capital in Jerusalem. According to the AP, the rally was part of what is called a “sharp turn rightward” for the Egyptian Brotherhood. As noted in that post , GMBDW takes issue with the notion that these events represent a “sharp turn rightward” for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood on the grounds that similar views had been expressed by the Egyptian as well as the Global Muslim Brotherhood and documented by GMBDW over the last years. We apply the same analysis to the idea that Mr. Abol Fotouh is “moving to the right.”
The GMBDW had already noted last year that Abol-Fotouh was being supported by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, also often described as a moderate, which should have been cause enough to be suspicious of Mr. Abol-Fotough’s own characterization as a moderate. Shortly following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he accused the U.S of plan to “enslave the Arab nation”:
‘This war is not a crusade, but Islam is definitely a target, not as a religion, but as a strong catalyst for resistance and struggle,’ said Abdel-Moneim Abul- Fotouh, a leading member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and deputy secretary-general of the Arab Doctors’ Federation. ‘Islam is perceived as the strongest obstacle to US plans to enslave the Arab nation,’ he added.
In 2006, he continued along the same lines advising support for “a Hezbollah-Iranian agenda than an ”American-Zionist” one”:
Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a member of its guidance office, said that the United States had invaded Iraq to divide Muslims and that it was better to support a Hezbollah-Iranian agenda than an ”American-Zionist” one. ”Which one is more dangerous to the Muslim world?” he said in an interview, before attacking ”the regimes who tremble before Iran. They are weak and tattered regimes who don’t acknowledge the will of their people.” When pressed, though, a vague ambivalence emerges. ”Iran would be at the end of our list of enemies, even though it’s not an enemy,” he said. ”Let’s combat the American danger on the region before we ‘compete’ with Iran.”
In October 2006, U.S. media reported that Abul-Fotouh was one of two Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders denied U.S. visas to speak an a conference at NYU: (See Note below)
Two Egyptian-born Islamic leaders, scheduled to speak yesterday at a New York University Law School forum on the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, were not granted visas, according to the Department of Homeland Security and the panel organizer. Kamal Helbawy, 80, the founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, was forced to leave an American Airlines jet bound for New York on Wednesday, minutes before it was to depart Heathrow Airport in London. A DHS spokeswoman said Helbawy was “inadmissible” but would not elaborate. Helbawy was to replace Abdel Monem Abul ElFotouh, 56, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood who had been announced as a speaker at the NYU conference two weeks ago but never received his visa in Egypt….ElFotouh is believed to have led a radical resurgence of the group in the 1970s, although today he is regarded by many watchdogs as a moderate. He was also among 62 group leaders sentenced to five years in prison in Egypt in 1995 for their alleged role in a failed coup.
(Note: “NYU IN ISLAM FUROR – NO VISAS FOR SPEAKERS” The New York Post October 20, 2006)
Eric Trager, writing in the New Republic, has posted an excellent analysis on both the extremist positions of Abol Fotouh as well as the incessant description of him as “moderate” by leading U.S. media.