As the past fortnight has underlined, Egypt occupies a leading role in one of the most vital and volatile regions in the world. However, this great country has been ruled by an autocratic regime for more than 30 years, and left riddled with corruption, poverty, inequality and insecurity. With millions condemned to live in squalor, astronomical unemployment rates, political suppression and absence of basic freedoms, the Egyptian people have been seething with anger, frustration and discontent for years. Thousands of political dissidents have been dragged before military courts and sentenced to years in prison despite civil courts ordering their release. Elections were rigged on an unimaginable scale – forcing Egyptians, and especially the young, into a state of utter desperation.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in 1928, is at the heart of Egyptian society, and therefore has come in for much of the strife and difficulty that faced the entire country as a result of the regime’s policies and practices. As a political movement with wide appeal and support, it was constantly targeted by some of the most brutal government measures. It was banned from public life despite the fact that most people considered it to be the main opposition organisation.
Despite numerous attempts to tarnish the Muslim Brotherhood’s reputation inside Egypt and beyond, the tenets of our movement could not be clearer or more unequivocal. We aim to remove all forms of injustice, tyranny, autocracy and dictatorship, and we call for the implementation of a democratic multiparty all-inclusive political system that excludes no one.
Accusations that we aim to dominate or hegemonise the political system could not be further from the truth, and all our literature and public statements emphasise that we see ourselves as part of the fabric of Egyptian social and political life. So we deserve an equal opportunity to work for the prosperity of Egypt through promoting our message and solutions, just like all other groupings.
For years we have been warning the regime that matters were coming to a head and that radical change was inevitable if we were to achieve internal peace, security and stability. The revolution sweeping Egypt is a result of the eruption of anger and frustration built up over many years of abject failure and widespread corruption. Uniquely this moment is one that no political party can claim to own, to lead or to have triggered. Rather, it was a natural reaction by the population to the miserable state of its country.
Egypt’s youth have been the heroes of the events. The maturity, shrewdness, resilience, intelligence and patriotism exemplified by the young people in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in dozens of other Egyptian cities has been refreshing and uplifting for the entire country. It was just what a deeply despondent population needed, and has it breathed life into a society all but resigned to exist under a corrupt dictator who would then hand over to his son.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been with those protesters from the very start, and continues to share their demands that a peaceful transfer of power is carried out immediately, and freedom in all senses is realised throughout Egypt. There can be no question that genuine democracy must prevail; and while the Muslim Brotherhood is unequivocal regarding its basis in Islamic thought, it rejects any attempt to enforce any ideological line upon the Egyptian people.
Over the past few days, we have been working with the youth leaders and our partners in the opposition to bring this revolution to its only satisfactory outcome. We have decided to engage in a dialogue between political parties and the appointed vice president and other officials to explore directly their commitment to implement the people’s demands and willingness to respond to them positively. The outcome so far is far from sufficient. Meanwhile, the unprecedented nationwide protests continue – until the people’s goals are achieved.
The Muslim Brotherhood along with the whole nation is unrelenting in its demand that President Hosni Mubarak stands down immediately. We want the officials responsible for the bloodshed that marred the peaceful protests to be brought to trial; the parliamentary and local councils formed by rigged elections to be disbanded; the immediate cessation of the emergency law; and the formation of an interim national government until free fair and transparent elections are held under full legal and judicial supervision. The Muslim Brotherhood will never compromise on its demands for the complete separation and independence of authorities, the freedom to form political parties and community groups, and the freedom of the press and media.
Should these be implemented – and we are determined they will – Egypt will be able to assume its place as a positive regional player and influential state that can interact with the international community on the basis of mutual respect and shared interests. The world cannot do without an Egypt that is at peace with itself and capable of playing its full role in the world.
By Mohammad Mursi, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood.