Shaykhs Muhammad Husayn Yaqub and Muhammad Hassan preached that voting yes safeguards Islam. Yaqub in particular gave a controversial speech after the results showed that the yes vote achieved 77.2 per cent. He said: "Now religion will be involved in every aspect of life. You have asked for the ballot box. And now the ballot box said yes to religion." (Al-Dustur al-Asli website, 22 March).
Demolition of shrines
The most "horrifying" act attributed to the Salafists after the revolution was the demolition of a number of Sufi Saints' shrines which are considered, according to Salafists, a kind of heresy that has no backing in the Koran or the Sunna. The Salafists reportedly demolished a number of shrines in Qalyub city in Al-Qalyubiyah governorate, a shrine in Al-Minufiyah governorate, and other shrines in some of the Delta villages. The police investigated the incidents and did not reach any conclusion. The arrested suspects were found not guilty and were released.
The Egyptian mufti, Ali Jum'ah, described the Salafists as the modern Khawarij (Islamic dissidents). He vowed not to allow them to control Egypt's Al-Azhar or the country's mosques and religious institutions (Al-Jazeera Net, 8 April).
The Salafists themselves categorically denied any connection to the demolition of shrines. The spokesman of the Islamic Call, Shaykh Abd-al-Mun'im Shihatah, told Aljazeera Net that "accusing the salafists of demolishing shrines and claiming that they wanted to impose Al-Jizyah (poll tax) on the Copts, or use violence to establish the Islamic state, was a planned campaign orchestrated by the anti-Islamic forces with the aim of shaking the stability of Egypt."
"Everyone is frightened. There is a lot of fear in society and a lot of concern," liberal writer and political science professor, Muna Makram Ubayd, told BBC in April. Ubayd complained that "the Salafists have been brought out from their caves" (BBC news website, 6 April).
The referendum campaign; the demolition of shrines; the resumption of huge Kamiliya Shihatah demonstrations; allegations about cutting off the ear of a Coptic man for renting his apartments to prostitutes; claims that Salafists were behind the Qina governorate sit-in calling for ousting the new governor - all of these prompted Egyptian liberals, secularists, leftists and even moderate Islamists to wonder if Salafists would be able to establish an Iran-like theocracy in Egypt.
Be that as it may, the evidence indicates that Egyptian non-Jihadist Salafism is now in the process of redefining its relation to politics. It is not yet clear whether this will mark the rebirth of a new form of Jihadism which will lead to a quest for power to achieve the Islamic state, or the crystallization of a kind of religious conservatism that will pose no threat to the liberal project of creating a civil state in Egypt.
[Description of Source: Caversham BBC Monitoring in English -- Monitoring service of the BBC, the United Kingdom's public service broadcaster]
'Cairo Today' talk show discusses Islamic Group's views after Egypt's revolution
GMP20110306950026 Cairo Dream 2 Satellite Television Channel in Arabic 1930 GMT 05 Mar 11
Al-Yawm TV's discussion programme "Cairo Today" on 5 January discussed the seizure of classified documents from the State Security Investigation Department (SSID) premises in various provinces. The programme also interviewed in the studio two leaderships from the Jama'ah Islamiyah (Islamic Group) to discus its activities and views after the 25 January revolution.
Seizure of classified documents
The programme showed copies of SSID documents that were seized after protesters stormed the agency's premises in various provinces. It showed footage of the burnt documents in the agency's 6 October province headquarters.
Co-presenter Buthaynah Kamil said 12 protesters were injured when they were storming the SSID Alexandria premises.
Counsellor Zakariya Abd-al-Aziz said protesters who stormed the SSID headquarters of Nasr City in Cairo contacted him to hand over seized documents to him. He said he had been to the protest venue and calmed down the protesters then the army took control of the building.
In a telephone interview, an eyewitness said Salafis in Matruh in northern Egypt stormed the SSID headquarters and protected it from vandalism in cooperation with the army. He said they later held a seminar inside the building. The programme carried what seemed to be mobile phone footage showing some people with beards and mostly wearing white gowns in the building.
Co-presenter Amr Adib said the Islamists were a strong trend and they would have strong influence in the future.
The programme also interviewed journalist Amr Hammudah, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned weekly Al-Fajr, in the studio to discuss recent developments in the country. He said he paid a recent visit to Sharm al-Shaykh where former President Husni Mubarak was reportedly staying. He said the city now was almost deserted compared to how it had been in the past. He also touched on the business activities of the president's son, Jamal Mubarak, urging investigations into these activities. He also discussed financial irregularities under the former regime.
Jama'ah Islamiyah in Egypt
Amr Adib interviewed two Islamic Group figures in the studio. They were Najih Ibrahim, editor-in-chief of the group's website, and Karam Zuhdi, member of Shura council.
On the number of group in Egypt, Zuhdi said the group had members in all provinces all over the country. He said the group members resumed activities after the recent ideological revisions. These activities included giving lectures and Da'wah (call) at mosques, he said. Ibrahim said the group's activities were mainly confined to Da'wah away from violence.
On the difference between the Islamic Group and Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Ibrahim said there was an agreement with the MB regarding the constants of Islam but there was a difference on the methods and means. The MB may focus more on politics while the Islamic Group focuses more on Da'wah, he said.
On the group's view of the revolution, he praised it as good, saying that there were two important elements for the success of this revolution to continue, namely strong economy and security. Zuhdi showed pessimism regarding the coming period.
On the group's stance on tourism, he said the group had a moderate stance on this, but he rejected offering wine to tourists or any other practices impermissible in Islam. Ibrahim said the tourists should take into accounts Muslims' customs and traditions.
On Copts' right to assume presidency, Ibrahim said "it would be politically inappropriate for a Copt to assume presidency the same way it is politically inappropriate for an Islamic Group member to assume presidency". He said the same applied to women.
On the peace treaty with Israel, Ibrahim said any one who would rule Egypt at present would not be able to cancel the Camp David agreement. Zuhdi said it was possible to have peace treaties with the Jews as Prophet Muhammad had done in the past. He said the treaty could be subject to amendment in case the balance of power on the ground changed.
Egypt: Islamic Group Figure Asks Military Council To Release Two Prisoners
GMP20110309120005 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic, Accounting 09 Mar 11
[Report from Cairo by Ahmad Rahim: A Leading Figure in the Al-Jamaah al-Islamiyah Meets a Representative of the Army to Discuss the Al-Zumar Case]
Al-Hayah learned that Isam Darbalah, a leading figure in the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah [Islamic Group], met with a representative of the Armed Forces Supreme Council and handed him a request from the group for the release of members of the group, Abbud al-Zumar and his cousin Tariq al-Zumar, who have been imprisoned in connection with the assassination of the late President Anwar al-Sadat.
Dr Najih Ibrahim, the group's second man, told Al-Hayah that Darbalah met with a representative of the military council a few days ago and handed him the request. He added that the council received earlier a request from the family of Abbud al-Zumar for his release.
Ibrahim said: "Earlier, former Interior Minister Mahmud Wajdi took measures to release Al-Zumar on health grounds, and Al-Zumar was expected to be released this week, but incidents at the State Security Agency disrupted the process." He was referring to the storming of the agency centers, the officers of which destroyed thousands of documents.
Ibrahim added: "Al-Zumar's release may take some time as the case will be discussed by the new interior minister, Mansur al-Isawi. The State Security Agency was in charge of this case, but after these incidents, we do not know who is in charge now. Therefore, we appeal to the military council to take care of the Abbud al-Zumar case and take a decision to release him."
Al-Zumar, a retired lieutenant colonel from the military intelligence service, participated in the assassination of Al-Sadat. He gained fame after Al-Sadat referred to him in one of his speeches without mentioning his name. Al-Sadat said in his speech: "I will not be merciful to this fugitive boy who knows himself." He was referring to Al-Zumar who escaped after it was discovered that he had joined a group that planned to assassinate the president.
Al-Zumar was the author of the idea to directly attack the stage from the front during a military parade on 6 October 1980 when Al-Sadat was assassinated. Two prison sentences were passed against him, a 25-year sentence in connection with the assassination of Al-Sadat and a 15-year sentence in connection with the Jihad Organization case. In 2007, a court decided not to look into his appeal to release him.
Over the past weeks, members of the Islamic Group demonstrated at the Al-Tahrir Square, carried pictures of Al-Zumar and other detained leading figures of the group, and demanded their release.
Ibrahim said that the meeting between Darbalah and the military council representative "ended with a promise to study the case and take a decision on it." He noted: "Had it not been for the incidents at the State Security Agency, the measures to release Al-Zumar on health grounds would have been almost completed. Yet, we expect him to be released this month."
Ibrahim told Al-Hayah how Abbud al-Zumar was hit by shrapnel in the hand during an exchange of fire in the Damanhur Prison.
He said: "Some prisoners with criminal cases barricaded themselves in the prison's hospital after they revolted demanding that the prison officer and intelligence chief be replaced while Abbud and Tariq al-Zumar were in the hospital."
He added: "The prisoners asked Shaykh Tariq to stay with them so that the security forces would not fire at them. They also asked him to negotiate in their name, but he refused, and the incident developed into an exchange of fire between the prisoners and the administration staff. Abbud was wounded as a result. Faced with this situation, we asked the security authorities to either release him, move him away from the prison, or protect him."
He continued: "On that night, no police transportation vehicles were available. Therefore, 20 members of the Islamic Group went to accompany and protect Al-Zumar in the prison. After evacuating him from the hospital, the prison administration staff moved him to the administration building where five members of the group spent the night with him to protect him. The next day, he was transported to a secure prison attached to the Turrah Prison."
[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL: http://www.daralhayat.com]
Egypt: Al-Zumur on Competing with Muslim Brotherhood, Camp David Accord
GMP20110314013002 Cairo Rose al-Yusuf in Arabic 14 Mar 11 p 4
[Interview with the leader of the Jihad Organization, Abbud al-Zumur, by Ahmad Imbabi in Cairo; Date not given]
Leading Jihad Organization members Abbud al-Zumur and his cousin Tariq al-Zumur were given a huge popular reception by the people of Nahia Village the evening before last [ 12 March], after spending 30 years behind bars on charges of involvement in both the assassination of late president Anwar al-Sadat and the Jihad Organization case. The motorcade cruised the streets of the village until it reached the famous Al-Zumur family home. The village residents and members of the Islamic Group and Jihad Organization joined the parade organized to celebrate Al-Zumurs. They shouted the slogan "raise your head up high, you are a Muslim," while the villagers and their relatives fired shots in the air as part of the celebration.
It was noteworthy that during the celebration, Abbud and Tariq were driven to the family home in a Hummer, after 30 years of travelling between various prisons in prisoner transportation vehicles. Abbud and Tariq al-Zumur were not able to hold the press conference, which was scheduled to be held as soon as they arrived in the village, because of the massive crowds of reporters and villagers, who rushed to greet them. Instead, they gave sporadic statements to the media and talked on the phone with a number of TV talk shows. In the light of poor organization and the arrival of the leaders of Islamic Group's shura council -- notably Karam Zuhdi, Najih Ibrahim, Isam Dirbalah and Safwat Abd-al-Ghani, we met briefly with a number of Abbud's colleagues because the day was quite stressful. Abbud was keen on appearing calm and collected when he spoke.
Al-Zumur revealed that he is in the process of establishing a political party that will be a coalition of Islamic groups, specifically the Islamic Group, the Jihad Organization and the Salafis, in order to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood, which will establish a strong party. He explained that he did not want the Muslim Brotherhood to monopolize political Islamic action, and that there should be genuine pluralism. He also noted that members of the Islamic Group and Jihad Organization are qualified to practice politics because they had the chance to read extensively in prison. He pointed out, however, that they need practice in the ways of a modern state.
Asked about their position regarding Camp David, which was the main reason behind the Jihad Organization's decision to plot the assassination of Al-Sadat, he said he does not object to that agreement, and that all international treaties must be respected, even if they contained errors, but this particular agreement needs a few modifications.
[Imbabi] How do you view the decision to release you after spending 30 years behind bars?
[Al-Zumur] I thank God for His bounty, the decision to release me. I thank my family and everyone who helped me in my plight over the past years.
[Imbabi] Are you indebted to the 25 January Revolution, which reopened your case, and consequently you were released as one of the results of that revolution?
[Al-Zumur] The Egyptian people exerted tremendous efforts and managed to topple the former corrupt regime. We must all work to protect this glorious nation from the lackeys of the former regime.
[Imbabi] What are the priorities of action in the coming period, from your point of view?
[Al-Zumur] We want the people of Egypt to stand behind the Revolution Command Council [as published] and behind Prime Minister Dr Isam Sharaf until he completes his mission. We must reduce the pressure and give them an opportunity to implement reforms and development, and restart production after years of oppression, tyranny and deprivation, and to return of the looted money, which is enough to solve the country's problems. The people, the revolution and the political forces must give the caretaker government an opportunity to study the problems facing citizens. There is also a need to support the recent cons titutional amendments made by Counselor Tariq al-Bishri and his committee to pave the way for holding free and fair elections, and select a real parliament.
[Imbabi] Have your political positions changed?
[Al-Zumur] We did not succumb to any pressure throughout the duration of imprisonment. We persevered. We need all efforts to cross over to the next stage. I hope we will not be cut off from political life after suffering for 30 years in prison. This will help us to apply what we have learned.
[Imbabi] What is your political project for the coming period? Are you going to establish a political party?
[Al-Zumur] We have been calling for political life and a multi-party system for a long time. We demanded these freedoms and fought to win them. That is why we call for approving the creation of political parties as soon as the relevant notification [has been delivered to competent authorities] in order to give the people the right to express their opinions.
[Imbabi] With regard to the issue of Camp David [Accords], what is your position on this agreement now? You turned against the president because you objected to it, and this was the reason for your imprisonment for about 30 years.
[Al-Zumur] With regard to the foreign relations of political parties, or our future work, there is respect for old international treaties. This is important and indisputable; because the failure to respect international agreements and treaties is not one of the values and principles of Islam. They must be respected, even if they contained errors. The details of Camp David include articles, which give the right to modify certain things.
[Imbabi] Which part of that agreement do you call for modifying?
[Al-Zumur] Surely we cannot sell gas to Israel for less than international prices. Israel is not unlike other countries. This is just not right. We cannot give it approximately 3 billion [dollars] in aid, as circulating reports indicate. This [gas] belongs to us, the people, and we should never agree to this situation. We emphasize that agreements and conventions exist and remain in force, but the implementation of this particular issue is under consideration, particularly with regard to the rights of the Egyptian people.
[Imbabi] So, your position regarding this agreement has changed from total rejection and accusations of treason hurled at the officials who signed it, to support and calls for reviewing some of its details?
[Al-Zumur] Absolutely. As I said, we must respect previous agreements, even if they included some errors.
[Imbabi] There have been different views about this agreement after the departure of the Mubarak regime. Some people are calling for abolishing it, while others are adhering to it. How do you view this?
[Al-Zumur] This is a situation involving a previous agreement, and the new government will adhere to what the former government had agreed to, but this does not in any way contradict our right to amend it and support the Palestinian people. We will never abandon the Palestinian people, keep silent, or ignore their rights. Although Israel is an occupation force, there is a certain commitment to what has been signed with it.
[Imbabi] Do you support the call for holding a public referendum on this agreement after the referendum on constitutional amendments?
[Al-Zumur] If possible, we can achieve our interests in this agreement, after making some modifications to its articles. The new leadership should be given the opportunity to study the country's interests; particularly if conditions improved, and there was a positive response to the rights of the Palestinian people.
[Imbabi] What about the killers of the former president [Al-Sadat], who was a victim of this agreement?
[Al-Zumur] This file is closed and we should not reopen it. But Al-Sadat's as sassins were martyrs.
[Imbabi] With regard to the relationship between Egypt and the United States, does your political agenda include a strategy for tackling this issue?
[Al-Zumur] Americans and the West are kind of intimidated by Islamists. The Egyptian government used to sell us a lot in order to keep the regime in place. They used us as a bogeyman to scare the United States, but a country that presumably respects other countries, like the United States and others, should have no fear. As a respectable, independent and sovereign country, we support it within the framework of common interests.
We are supposed to do anything within the framework of common interests between us and the United States, or between us and any other country. We must never believe that the United States can dictate our decisions, or impose a certain relationship with Israel, or any form of relations that we find distasteful in any way, or inconsistent with our rules and traditions. We must never become a tool of oppression in the region, as we were in the past.
We are a country that has integrity and respect. This does not mean turning against the international community. We will have harmony with the international community within the framework of common interests, the principles of respect for different opinions, human rights, domestic affairs, and all treaties and conventions. We must defend oppressed people all over the world. This must be our role, as a state. This is a general vision for a political party, but we have not formed it, or declared its inception yet.
[Imbabi] With respect to the party, there is more than one project to establish Islamist parties now, like the ones prepared by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Group, the Salafis, and some elements of the Jihad Organization. Will you propose an independent party, or join the Islamic Group's party, since you are one of the leaders of the group's shura council?
[Al-Zumur] I will call in the coming period for creating a coalition comprising [all factions of] the Islamic trend. (It is noteworthy that after the 25 January Revolution, and after lifting the ban imposed on political trends, specifically Islamic movements, several parties with Islamic references have been announced, such as the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Freedom Party, the Islamic Group's party, the Islamic Justice and Development Party, which was announced by Islamist lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat, the party announced by Jamal Sultan and a number of Jihad Organization elements such as Kamal Habib, and the party announced by the Salafis).
[Imbabi] Will this coalition include all the above-mentioned parties?
[Al-Zumur] As an organized group, the Muslim Brotherhood is in the process of establishing a strong party and its cadres are ready. It would be very difficult to include elements of the Jihad Organization with it, because it is an organized group and has its own internal regulations. The coalition will include the other Islamic groups, such as Jihad, the Islamic Group and the Salafis.
[Imbabi] How likely are these groups to have real political concord, especially since all the attempts to unite the Islamic Group and the Jihad Organization have failed?
[Al-Zumur] Yes, these groups can be combined in one coalition that aims at having multiple views. We could say that Islam is not the image of the Muslim Brotherhood alone, nor is it monopolized by any group. There are other trends with Islamic vision and philosophy, and they apply them differently on the ground.
[Imbabi] Are the Islamic Group and Jihad Organization qualified to engage in politics? They have been isolated from public life for almost 30 years.
[Al-Zumur] By the grace of God, we, as an Islamist group, were in prison, but we have had the opportunity to read extensively. You will find that many of the brothers received Ph.D. degrees in prison, and they have followed up political events closely. We were fully aware of what was happening day after day, and we never lost track of developments. There is nothing new to us, except the monuments, buildings, streets and new bridges that we saw when we got out. Our political vision is clear. Therefore, you will find that the brothers in the group have a high level of understanding and political action, but we want to train cadres on the modern state. This will allow the young members of the Islamic Group, the Jihad Organization and the Salafis to play a political role in the current stage, so that in the end, we can all play our roles well.