Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, once a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, former presidential candidate, and head of the Strong Egypt Party, spoke with Cornelis Hulsman, editor of Arab-West Report, in an interview for MEI regarding his break from the Brotherhood, Morsi’s ouster, and what he sees as necessary for Egypt’s future.
You were once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Why did you leave the organization?
I wanted to run as an independent candidate in the presidential elections, and the Muslim Brotherhood made it obligatory for members to join the Freedom and Justice Party. I also opposed the Brotherhood’s mixing of religious and political life. The Brotherhood was established as an Islamic call and education organization that intended to change society from the grassroots level. Its biggest mistake is its involvement in politics.
This does not mean that religion should play no role in politics, but I am against a religious state. A religious state means that those ruling the country are representatives of God. A religious state creates discrimination among citizens, when they should be treated according to the rights of citizenship. Gender, race, or religion should not determine your rights. You are an Egyptian and that alone determines your rights.
What did you think of Morsi’s year as president?
The experience with Morsi was very bad. The president made promises that he did not keep. His performance was poor, and he excluded the opposition. But the opposition turned the political conflict into an ideological conflict, which we [the Strong Egypt Party]are against. The conflict between the authority and the opposition should remain a political conflict based on political differences. It should not be an ideological conflict.
Should Morsi have resigned under the pressure of the June 30 demonstrations?
No, he should have called for a referendum for early presidential elections and remained in power until a new president was elected and handed power to him. That would have respected the constitution, even though we were against that constitution. Having a gap in power means a new revolution is taking place. The Strong Egypt Party is against this revolution; we have to complete the January 25 revolution. The country is now in chaos and is again experiencing military rule.
Read the rest here.
According to a bio in the Egyptian Independent, Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh is an Egyptian physician who is a syndicate leader in the Arab Doctors Union. He is also a former leader since his student days in the Jama’a al-Islamiya, the Egyptian terrorist group whose spiritual leader was cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman– the so called “Blind Sheikh” now imprisoned in the US for his role in the 1st World Trade Center bombing. When former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat released Muslim Brotherhood leaders from prison in the 1970’s, these same leaders approached Dr. Aboul Fotouh and persuaded him and his peers to join the flagging Brotherhood where he eventually rose to a leadership position. 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). Dr. Aboul Fotouh was a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau from 1987 until 2009 until he was expelled from the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau in what was said to be a fraudulent poll and in July 2011 was expelled from the Brotherhood entirely in connection with his decision to run for Egyptian President. At that time, Dr. Aboul Fotouh said that he had consulted Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi before deciding to run for the presidency while Qaradawi told a Qatari newspaper “I will vote for Abul-Futuh.”In May 2012, shortly before the election, UK media reported that Dr. Aboul Fotouh was “moving to the right” in comparison with said to be his earlier “moderate” positions. However, despite this notion that Dr. Aboul Fotouh was a moderate forced to the right by the presidential campaign, analyst Eric Trager has written an analysis on both the extremist positions of Abol Fotouh as well as the incessant description of him as “moderate” by leading U.S. media. Trager’s article begins:
But American media has had a tough time acknowledging the dispiriting truth that Egypt’s presidential race is now a contest between theocratic Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Abol Fotouh on the one hand, and autocratic former Mubarak regime officials such as Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq on the other. Instead, the country’s major newspapers have gone out of their way to designate a hero. The Wall Street Journalthus whitewashed Abol Fotouh as “relatively liberal,” while The New York Times dubbed him a “liberal” outright. Any judicious reading of Abol Fotouh’s record would contradict these characterizations.
Read the rest here.
In addition to Trager’s analysis, Dr. Aboul Fotouh has had an even longer history of extremist statements. 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.”
Egyptian journalist and political analyst Fady Salah has published an article titled “Aboul Fotouh: One Man Fits All” which looks at the history of contradictory statements made by Dr. Aboul Fotouh.
For an official bio of Dr. Aboul Fotouh go here.
(Note: “NYU IN ISLAM FUROR – NO VISAS FOR SPEAKERS” The New York Post October 20, 2006)