Following a symposium in London organized by the Egyptian Community in the United Kingdom, a diaspora association of Egyptian Muslims in Britain, Arabist reader Dalia Malek had the chance to follow up with Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Council member and president of Justice and Freedom Party Mohamed Morsy and ask further questions about his lecture. She sent in this transcript of the interview and her notes on Morsy's lecture.
As Egypt heads toward parliamentary elections in September, the Muslim Brotherhood is spreading the word about its new party’s ideology. Justice and Freeom portray itself as working within an Islamic framework that is open to Egypt’s religious diversity, emphasizing its compatibility with religious minorities, women’s rights, and human rights.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s legislative body has delegated Mohamed Morsy to be the President of its Freedom and Justice Party, whose ambiguous distinction from the Muslim Brotherhood has been debated. Morsy is also the media spokesman and member of the Guidance Bureau.
In the lecture, Morsy repeated the Brotherhood’s claim that the party does not seek to promote a presidential candidate for the upcoming election and that it aims to gain no more than 50% of seats in Parliament.
Surprisingly, and in contrast with the recent claim that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists have unified, Morsy stated that the party and the Salafists are distinct, noting the Salafists’ lack of political experience, and that he disagrees with the majority of their views. He referenced a Salafist leaflet that used the word “infidels” four times, depicting use of this language in a negative light.
Dalia Malek (DM): You mentioned in the lecture that an Islamic state that applies Islam properly does not currently exist. But we have seen other countries that purport to have Islamic governments implement un-Islamic ideologies and have poor human rights records. In addition to the diversity of religions in Egypt, even Muslims in Egypt cannot agree. Why do you think that this will work in Egypt?
Mohamed Morsy (MM): I was saying that in general, there is no such religious state based on a theocratic concept. There is no state in the world now that applies the meaning of “theocratic state.” What we have now is the civic state. Whether it does or does not have the flavor of religion is something else.
We cannot in reality call Muslim countries “Islamic states.” As you said, we see violations of the constitutions of those countries. But an Islamic state is by definition a modern state. It’s a civic state. You have three completely independent authorities: the parliament, the judges, and the government. Islam confirms these authorities to be independent. Also, the people are the source of power. This is also by definition Islamic.
When people have accepted the notion of Islam as a framework, violations within it will be minimized. It cannot be imposed on the people and it cannot be done from the top. It has to be initiated, created, and agreed upon by the people.