He said the initiative on abandoning violence was "a strategic option based on Shari'a" and that there was no likelihood that the group would change its mind on this and return to violence again. He said the group would adopt persuasion and avoid pressures in urging the people to abide fully by religious teachings and would "assure non-Muslims that they have equal rights and duties".
"We shall not allow return to violence in the Islamic Group. No one in the Islamic Group wants return to violence. Some advocate returning to all or part of the old ideology in takfir [branding with apostasy] the ruler but without resort to violence. We are trying to make them abandon this concept because it might develop in an undesirable way with the youthful generations and lead afterwards to many problems, especially in the atmosphere of freedom we are now living".
Asked whether terrorist incidents or sectarian sedition can happen in the coming period, Ibrahim replied "I think constructive dialogue with the Copts will be a real guarantee against sectarian tensions. The main reason for the incidents of sectarian violence in recent years was the absence of dialogue between the two sides because Mubarak's regime wanted this absence and because of the link some Church leaders had with the ruling regime and the hereditary rule blueprint. But I think targeted dialogue would put an end to these bottlenecks. The atmosphere of freedom prevailing at present will also lead to limiting terrorist incidents to a very great extent, especially as moderate preachers are now allowed to engage in da'wa for Allah's ways".
"Da'wa has specific and renewable ways that differ with time and location. What is more important is the framework within which da'wa will move, namely wisdom, gentlenes s with people, and avoiding pressures on them," Ibrahim said. "We also believe in choosing the most lenient of theological views rather than the most stringent. This is in application of the hadith [Prophet Muhammad saying] 'any time the Prophet of Allah, prayers and peace upon him, is given a choice between issues he chooses the more lenient unless it involves a sin'. [Thus we believe in] Reforming religious discourse in a way that does not violate Islamic tenets but makes it conform to the tolerance, middle-of-the-road approach, moderation and realism. The other non-Muslims should be assured about all their rights and that they have equal rights and duty. This should construct rather than destroy and combine rather than create splits. The takfir discourse against the ruler or the ruled should be abandoned."
The report said Ibrahim was a member of the Islamic Group's Shura Council. It said he has a Ph.D. in medicine and surgery and also obtained BA degrees in Islamic Studies from Cairo and Al-Minya Universities. He is married and has three sons and two daughters. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Sadat assassination case and spent 24 years in prison. He is the author of 25 books on various religious issues. He participated while in prison in the theological revisions which culminated in the announced renunciation of violence in the 1990s. He supervises the Islamic Group's Internet site in Arabic, English, and Urdu.
[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah in Arabic Website of state-controlled daily whose editorial line strongly defends regime policy.]
Egypt: Abd-al-Rahman's Family Rejects Call To Raid US Embassy, Seize Envoy
GMP20110723825011 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic 23 Jul 11
[Report by Ahmad Mustafa in Cairo: "Islamists Act To Release Umar Abd-al-Rahman"]
Egyptian Islamists signaled yesterday they would stage a sit-in outside the US Embassy in Cairo and "million-strong demonstrations" to demand from the United States to release blind Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman who is serving a life sentence.
Members of Abd-al-Rahman's family disclosed to Al-Hayah that a participant in a demonstration staged yesterday to demand his release "threatened to carry out operations targeting the Israelis in Sinai's resorts as a pressure step" while others talked about breaking into the US Embassy in Cairo and holding the ambassador. But the family members rejected a resort to such steps because they are bound to damage the case. Islamist Lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat said: "We noticed complications in the past days in the matter of the Egyptian Government taking concrete steps for applying to receive the Islamic Group's amir which indicates that Cairo has fears from Abd-al-Rahman's return."
Hundreds of Islamists staged a demonstration after Friday's prayers which headed toward Al-Tahrir Square in central Cairo before stopping outside the US Embassy in Garden City neighborhood during which they demanded Abd-al-Rahman's release. The demonstrators, whose march started near Umar Maqram Mosque, raised the slogans "the people want Umar Abd-al-Rahman" and "support the supporter of Islam in American jails."
The blind shaykh's son Muhammad Umar Abd-al-Rahman asserted they would continue their efforts until his release and told Al-Hayah: "We will announce the stage-in in front of the US Embassy. We are also about organizing million-strong demonstrations in Al-Tahrir Square." He pointed out that the family received a telephone call from his father before few days telling them his health has worsened and urging them to continue the efforts for his release. The son referred to pressures on the Egyptian Government and Military Council "to submit an immediate and urgent request to the American authorities for Shaykh Abd-al-Rahman's return to Cairo, either by releasing him or letting him serve his remaining jail sentence in Egyptian jails." But Muntasir al-Zayyat told Al-Hayah the "case of Abd-al-Rahman's return to Cairo is now in the hands of a sovereign party", a reference to Egyptian intelligence.
[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL: http://www.daralhayat.com]
Egypt: Islamic Group Figure Affirms 'No Intention To Clash' on 29 July
GMP20110724013004 Cairo Al-Shuruq al-Jadid in Arabic 24 Jul 11 p 1
[Report by Muhammad Khayyal: "Islamic Group: Egypt To Witness Biggest Ever Massive Gathering in History on Friday."]
Asim Abd-al-Majid, a member of the Shura Council of Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyyah [Islamic Group], said that Cairo will witness the largest ever gathering in its history next Friday in Tahrir Square.
He added to Al-Shuruq: "We shall go down [to the Square] without the intention of confrontation with any one. But anybody who thinks of confrontation will bear the consequences."
This follows an agreement by the Religious Body for Rights, Reform, and Salafi Advocacy and Al-Jama'ah on organizing a million-strong demonstration in Tahrir Square on Friday, 29 July, in response to calls for drafting a "supra-Constitutional" document. The Muslim Brotherhood group announced it was studying the matter after its agreement with these forces under the title of "the million-strong demonstration to attain the will of the people".
Shaykh Sayid Faraj, one of the youths of Al-Jama'ah who went against the Al-Jama'ah decision and joined the sit-in in Tahrir Square together with a group of Islamists who called themselves "the free Islamist coalition", commented on Abd-al-Majid's statements that divided the sit-in protestors at Tahrir Square into three camps: Seculars, communists, and remnants of the former regime. "There are in the Square brothers of yours who seek to apply the Shari' [laws] of Allah," he told Abd-al-Majid. "They are there just as the communists and seculars are." He said their presence was necessary to ensure national accord. "If there are in the Square some people who damage the revolution, it still has revolutionaries in it," he said.
On worries that clashes would erupt between the Tahrir sit-in protestors and the demonstrators of the Islamic forces, Hilmi al-Jazzar, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council said "the occurrence of acts of violence is not permitted at all". He stressed that the Muslim Brothers "will not accept this", adding that the large crowd that will assemble is the guarantee against the eruption of acts of violence especially since any hooligans will not dare face such a crowd.
He said that the demonstration's aims do not include vacating the square or evicting the protestors from it. "Every faction has the right to express its opinion in full freedom," he said.
[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Shuruq al-Jadid in Arabic -- Independent pro-reform liberal daily, moderately critical of the government.]
Egypt: Islamic Group Spokesman Vows Confrontation with US, Israeli Policies
GMP20110728007004 Cairo Al-Dustur in Arabic 28 Jul 11 p 4
[Interview with Asim Abd-al-Majid, the spokesman of the Islamic Group, Conducted by Abd-al-Rahman Abu-Uf: "The Secularists are Placing Egypt at the Threshold of a Military Coup. Al-Abbasiyyah Events are Part of an American Design To Steal the Revolution. Collision with the Army is the First Step by the Sixth of April Movement to Dismantle State Institutions"]
Engineer Asim Abd-al-Majid, the official spokesman for Al-Jama'a al-Islamiyah [Islamic Group], does not hide his fears of the possibility of Egypt veering toward a dark tunnel or getting closer to a military coup in the event of insistence by the secular lobby and the April 6 movement on fostering the atmosphere of confusion and unrest in Egypt. Abd-al-Majid adopts a clear stand toward the April 6 movement. He does not hesitate to describe it as a non-Egyptian movement that is adopting a purely American course seeking continuation of hegemony over Egypt and subjecting it to American influence as was the case throughout the Mubarak era. Abd-al-Majid excludes any clash with the demonstrators of Tahrir [Square] and affirms that Al-Jama'a will not move to break up the sit-in or to promote disturbances but will work to unify ranks and support the just demands of the revolution. He strongly denied that Al-Jama'a adopts any approach of exclusion of others. He accused the secularists who met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of working to marginalize the Islamists and prevent them from playing a principal role during the coming stage. The interview with Engineer Abd-al-Majid dealt with a number of issues that we present in detail in the following lines:
[Abu-Uf] Many have criticized your sharp tone toward the protestors at Tahrir Square and the prevailing line in your statements of holding others as traitors?
[Abd-al-Majid] I did not brand anyone as a traitor and my sharp tone, as you call it, is due to the dangerous crisis that Egypt is facing as a result of information that has reached me about the existence of a plot by the April 6 movement to move to spread confusion and unrest on the fifty-ninth anniversary of the revolution of July 23, which is what did take place. Prior to that talk started about sit-ins, civil disobedience, closure of the Tahrir Complex, threatening the same fate to the underground metro and jeopardizing traffic in the Suez Canal and imposing a siege on the Ahmad Hamdi tunnel as a first stage. Then the second stage followed by harassment of the Armed Forces and storming their headquarters and the attempts to enter the security department premises in Alexandria and Suez and elsewhere, till we reached the Abbasiya incidents. Therefore silence toward the conspiracy was unacceptable in part and parcel especially as this plot came within a chain aimed at spreading anarchy in Egypt. This is a political, economic and social anarchy whose strings are being pulled by several forces including firstly the tail-ends of the National Democratic Party and the orphans of the former regime, supported in an indirect manner by the secular lobby which spares no effort to tamper with the security and stability of the country in executing its agenda.
[Abu-Uf] This is concerning political anarchy. Who was involved in creating economic and social anarchy?
[Abd-al-Majid] The economic anarchy has the objective of spreading confusion and disturbances, and working forcefully to foil the designs of the government of Isam Sharaf to invigorate the economy and attract investments. The thugs and the tail-ends are playing an important role in this. Entering with them on the crisis line is the April 6 movement which is executing a diabolical plot to spread the atmospheres of confusion and unrest. This plot was brought to light by General Hasan al-Ruwayni, commander of the Central Military Zone, when he described the movement as being non-Egyptian and adopting a foreign agenda to tamper with the security of Egypt. So no one should claim that we are the only ones accusing it.
[Abu-Uf] The accusations leveled at you did not stop at your holding of others to be traitors or even heretics but extended to claims that Al-Jama'a adopts a course of exclusion of others?
[Abd-al-Majid] With respect to takfir [branding others as apostates], I have not declared anyone heretic and I have not uttered that wor d at all. It is not part of my literature and I challenge anyone of the secularist symbols who says that I held him to be a heretic. We have not declared anyone to be heretic and we did not try to exclude anyone, for Al-Jama'a is the faction in Egypt that suffered exclusion and marginalization and faced liquidation and blows to the heart, as happened with former Interior Minister Zaki Badr. Therefore we cannot adopt such a course at all but others are the ones who seek to exclude us and to marginalize us the same way adopted by the criminal Mubarak regime against us over 30 years.
[Abu-Uf] What is the identity of those who want to exclude you?
[Abd-al-Majid] First, it must be stressed that we have been calling for a long time for holding of parliamentary elections within the framework of our respect for democracy and the will of the Egyptian people. We also stressed the necessity of forming a government of national unity with the participation of all the political forces out of our faith that the building of Egypt demands the solidarity of all the national forces, especially since any faction no matter how strong cannot undertake this task alone.
[Abu-Uf] Have you determined the identity of those who wish to exclude you?
[Abd-al-Majid] The secular lobby in Egypt which has intervened with Washington to pressure the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] to marginalize the Islamists and to postpone the parliamentary elections. In addition, some of its symbols have met the American State Secretary Hillary Clinton to urge her to intervene with SCAF to prevent the Islamists from playing an important role in Egypt in the post-revolution era. They do not believe in democracy unless it achieves their agenda alone, but if it were an implement for others to reach power, they can go to hell.
[Abu-Uf] But on the other hand, the liberals accuse the Islamist currents of adopting a course that is supportive all along of the line of the military establishment?
[Abd-al-Majid] Who said so? We support the neutral and logical stands that emerge from SCAF as long as they serve to achieve the objectives of the revolution and to uproot the tail-ends of the former regime from their establishments. But during the past days we have announced stern stands opposing a number of SCAF's decisions, including our rejection of the supra-constitutional principles. We also strongly opposed any trend to postpone the parliamentary elections considering that to be a circumvention of the will of the people and the results of the referendum on the constitutional amendments. Therefore there is no basis of truth to accusations that we are favoring the army, especially since we demand of it every day that it should deal fast with the just demands of the revolution.
[Abu-Uf] But some have interpreted these supportive stands of the soldiers to be a desire to save the necks of more than 15 Al-Jama'a leaders sentenced to death and to secure the release of hundreds of your cadres?
[Abd-al-Majid] This talk flows within the context of a campaign of strong defamation that targets all the Islamists. We place the interests of the homeland in the forefront of our priorities and we do not offer favors to anyone. We move according to what is right without favoritism or courteousness. Our cadres that are present in the jails are people who struggled to topple the dictatorial regime, so it is their right to be released. It is unacceptable in part or parcel that they should remain in jail together with the tail-ends of Mubarak.
[Abu-Uf] Under these conditions, a large number of Egyptians are talking about the likelihood of a clash between the Islamists and the Tahrir protestors?
[Abd-al-Majid] Accusations, claims and attempts at defamation aside, I affirm to you that Al-Jama'a will remain the safety valve and the balancing factor within the Egyptian arena and will never enter into a confrontation w ith anyone even if it be with people who received training in Serbia [accusations made against the Six of April movement] that used to combat the Muslims and to rape their women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We shall not try to clash with them but will seek to unify the ranks of all Egyptians behind the just principles of the revolution. We shall not raise slogans that divide unity but will seek to affirm the necessity of changing these demands while safeguarding the basic slogans "the revolution first, the elections first, stability first" and stressing the identity of Egypt and non-infringement on Article 2 of the constitution.
[Abu-Uf] But the last demand [on Article 2] appears non-conciliatory and has no consensus from all the hues of the political spectrum?
[Abd-al-Majid] Egypt's Islamic identity is considered a red line that must not be approached or infringed upon under any circumstances. This should not annoy anyone as long as the majority has supported that and will support it through a democratic, free poll that all should abide by and there should be no exercising of the dictatorship of the minority considering that that does not serve the interests of Egypt but drags it to a dark tunnel.
[Abu-Uf] But your statements and their tone in attacking the protestors has not gained the support of several factions of Islamists. There are reports circulating that the Islamic factions have apologized for your statements?
[Abd-al-Majid] No one has apologized for my statements and I defy anyone to produce a statement issued from Al-Jama'a apologizing for what I raised. What happened was mere clarification and placing the statements in their correct context, away from any distortion especially as the distortion campaign of these statement is what prompted some of the Islamists to have reservations about them even though they had not seen them but only heard about them.
[Abu-Uf] I see you are insisting on the same course despite its dangers for the unity of ranks?
[Abd-al-Majid] We are not the ones who tamper with the security and stability of Egypt but the secular and liberal clique with its calls to circumvent the people's choice and to postpone the elections. They are the ones leading the country to the dark tunnel. I reveal no secret when I affirm that these atmospheres, if they continue, will expose Egypt to a military coup by some of those who fear for the security and stability of the country and are desirous of putting an end to the atmospheres of disturbances and confusion.
[Abu-Uf] In light of the state of uncertainty that shrouds the conditions in Egypt, how do you assess the danger of what is happening?
[Abd-al-Majid] It is regrettable that there are different currents within Egypt trying to hijack the revolution and to work on spreading atmospheres of disturbances and enter into confrontation with SCAF, especially since it is the strong force that is defending Egypt and its revolution. These currents consider dismantling the State institutions as the most important means of spreading creative anarchy.
[Abu-Uf] But it seems that there is foreign interference pushing in the direction of this confusion?
[Abd-al-Majid] I expose no secret when I openly accuse Washington of supporting this anarchy and extending hundreds of millions of dollars to impose a specific scenario in Egypt by which the liberal and secular current controls power in quest of mortgaging the Egyptian sovereign decision to the desire of Washington and Tel Aviv to guarantee continuation of the same course that the criminal Mubarak regime was pursuing with the Americans and the Zionists. Therefore the Islamists will not stand silent toward that scenario and will sacrifice whatever they hold most precious along with their lives for the sake of safeguarding the sovereignty of Egypt and the deterrence of any attempts to make it spin again in the American orbit.
[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Dustur in Arabic -- Independent daily opposed to the regime and specifically the Mubarak family.]
Egypt: Senior Islamists on Closing-Ranks Friday Demonstrations
GMP20110731001012 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic 31 Jul 11
[Report by Ahmad Rahim, from Cairo: "The Islamists Reassure the Liberals After the 'Closing the Ranks' Friday"]
Hundreds of demonstrators continued yesterday their sit-in in Al-Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo after the "closing-the-ranks" Friday on which the Islamists imposed their control through masses that exceeded hundreds of thousands, and raised slogans that completely opposed the tendencies of the liberals, who had continued their sit-in in the square for three weeks.
At the same time, Justice Al-Sayyid Abd-al-Aziz Umar, chairman of Cairo Court of Appeal, has announced that it is decided conclusively that the trial of former President Husni Mubarak, his two sons Jamal and Ala, the businessman on the run Husayn Salim, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adili, and six of his senior aides, which is scheduled for 3 August, will be held in the headquarters of the Police Academy in Al-Qahirah al-Jadidah suburb rather than the previously selected headquarters of the Public Authority for Investments and Free Zones in the Exhibitions Center in Nasr City.
Yesterday it was noticed that the numbers of those continuing with the sit-in Al-Tahrir Square were small, and that dozens of the tents, which were erected in the square along the past three weeks, were dismantled; also the popular committees eased the procedures of searching the passersby and ascertaining the identities of those who wanted to enter the square. It seemed that those staging the sit-in were moving toward ending their action, an issue that was discussed by the political powers calling for the sit-in in a meeting that was held yesterday.
Sources of these coalitions told Al-Hayah before convening the meeting: "The prevailing tendency now is to lift the sit-in because of the beginning of the month of Ramadan, and the difficulty of continuing the sit-in in the light of the high temperature." It was reported that the decision to end the sit-in would depend on the result of a meeting between the political powers and the families of the martyrs, who conferred yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ali al-Salmi, and Minister of Health and Population Dr Amr Hilmi with the attendance of a number of the revolution youths, those staging the sit-in in Al-Tahrir square, and those on hunger strike.
Muhammad Adil, general coordinator of 6 April Movement, has told Al-Hayah that the behavior of the Islamists on "closing-the-ranks" Friday has intensified the atmosphere of mistrust among the various sides. Adil considers that what took place at the demonstrations was "betrayal of previous agreements." He rejects the claim that the mobilization of the Islamists is proof that they are a considerable bloc in Egypt, and he considers that "the Islamists mobilize their organized members, while the youths' movements mobilize the forces of the people."
The square witnessed on Friday evening a major attack against the Islamists after they departed from it following the end of their demonstrations. A number of youths condemned the control of the Islamists over all the rostrums of the square in the morning, also their brandishing of "contentious" slogans; the youths staged a demonstration that toured the entire square raising the slogan "Civil [State]; Civil."