An Interview with Muslim Brotherhood’s #2, Mohammed Habib
The next leader of Egypt's banned extremist Islamic group talks about Barack Obama, CAIR, and why he feels misunderstood.
August 24, 2008 - 1:21 am
Mohammed Habib is slated to become the next Supreme Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
His rise to the position of deputy supreme leader became possible when his predecessor in the job was sentenced to five years in prison by an Egyptian military tribunal for financing a banned organization — alongside 25 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood — and he ascended to the position. With the advanced age of the current supreme leader, it’s quite possible that Habib will become the next leader of the organization shortly.
The PJM interview with Habib was conducted by Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey in the Leadership Office of the Muslim Brotherhood.
They discussed a wide range of topics, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s support for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir against the International Criminal Court, their relationship with Hamas, ties to CAIR, and their continuing struggle against what they view as a vast Zionist-American conspiracy. But first things first….
SM: What does the Muslim Brotherhood think of the two candidates in the upcoming elections in the U.S?
Mohamed Habib: We would naturally like to see the end of the current regime and that their practices are not to be repeated by the coming administration. We don’t anticipate such change taking place if Senator John McCain wins, for he seems to be following the same line as the current American President George Bush. We are not so sure about Senator Obama either, because of his Israel visit, him saying that Israel is a democracy, and his visit to AIPAC, but we are withholding judgment because maybe he needs to do this to win. That being said, any change away from the criminal practices of the current administration is a good thing, and we would be happy with whatever candidate would put a stop to it.
SM: Since it just happened, what do you think of the Shura Council fire? Do you think this is an act of fate or does it indict someone?
Mohamed Habib: In the name of God, most merciful, most graceful, I think that its representative of the deterioration and the negligence that is entrenched in all of the government’s institutions. One would assume that with such an institution there would be a little bit of care or interest exercised in protecting it, since the tools to prevent such accidents are available. But, unfortunately, we saw that the response to the incident wasn’t on the required level to stop it, and while the firemen showed incredible courage, their level of preparedness and training were not at the desired level.
SM: We had Army helicopters carrying buckets of water from the Nile and dumping it on the fire. It was a scandal.
Mohamed Habib: That’s of course a shameful incident, but it’s a part of a bigger picture. And it expresses the tragedy and the suffering that the Egyptian people live in.
SM: Sir, let’s now talk about some international incidents. Very recently, the ICC has issued an indictment of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir over Darfur, and the first people in the world who issued a statement against the indictment was the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Why is that?
Mohamed Habib: First of all, this whole scenario is a political one of the first degree, and the Security Council is the organization that proposed this whole thing, and in reality, we know that the Security Council is under the control of the current American administration. And there is an American agenda and project in the region — and in Sudan. We see that this project doesn’t only go after the Sudanese resources, but also the fabric of Sudan itself, with the aim of tearing it into shreds. This is not about Omar al-Bashir or Ahmed Haroun, or whomever. There is a project, and it’s an obvious one at this point, and it aims to turn all parties against each other, east and west and north and south, in order to attack the heart, which is the Arabic and Islamic solidarity and unity. And to us as Egyptians, Sudan represents the gateway to Africa and it’s of strategic importance to Egypt; so any foul play happening there will naturally reflect on Egypt, since it concerns its national security. That’s one side of it. The other side is that we haven’t seen the Security Council moving to take action in order to address the war crimes that American President George Bush committed in Iraq, and the hundreds of thousands of people who died in the invasion and occupation in Iraq. We didn’t see the Security Council moving to address the human rights violations in Iraq or Afghanistan. We didn’t see them move to prevent the monstrous slaughtering of our Palestinian brothers in Ghaza and the West Bank. Given all that, it is then obvious this indictment is political of the first degree. And if there were human rights violations in Sudan, then it should be addressed and remedied in Sudan, and there should be an independent judiciary inside Sudan that would launch an investigation and conduct a fair trial to address what happened in Darfur or elsewhere.
SM: What are the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood?
Mohamed Habib: The Muslim Brotherhood has an Islamic, civilized, uplifting project that is based on the idea that Egypt needs to rise again to greatness, because in its rise it will uplift the entire Arab world with it. This of course requires the creation of a society that values justice, equality, and freedom, and what that entails in regards to respecting the will of the people in choosing their representatives or leaders; and also what that entails in regards to having really independent judicial and legislative branches of government, especially in the face of an executive branch of government that has infiltrated everything. We have announced our acceptance of the rule of democracy that is based on real political diversity, and the peaceful exchange of power, and that the people should rule and that they have the right to choose their leaders, their representatives, and the political platform that best addresses their desires and ambitions. We have a civilized project that is very interested in education, scientific research, and the use of technology as an important element in the uplifting of nations and people. We have a civilized project that highlights the importance of serious planning, and the modern administration of all of the country’s institutions. If we, as Egyptians, are suffering from a bread crisis or an unemployment crisis, or whatever, in reality we only have one crisis and that’s a crisis in ruling the country. Everything else is symptoms of that disease. We are facing corruption and oppression, therefore we consider that political reform is the key to achieve all the other types of desired reforms. We also want and call for an international community that enjoys stability and peace for all of the nations of the world, and this cannot take place without having the values of truth, justice, and freedom. Unfortunately, the current administration has stepped on all of the international treaties, agreements, and conventions, and unfortunately the American administration is now using might as a substitute for legitimacy, which brought back the law of the jungle to the world. It aims to control and hegemonize the world, so that the international political landscape is a unipolar one instead of a multipolar one.
SM: The image of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. and in other western countries — while we aren’t going to say it’s a bad one — is not the image you would like to portray for yourselves.
Mohamed Habib: That’s true!
SM: Why do you think that is?
Mohamed Habib: There are two parts to that. The first part is related to the tyrannical and oppressive regimes in our countries, that try to project a mental image (a really scary and horrifying image) in the minds of the western world that we are against democracy, and freedom, and human rights in general. The other part is the Zionist-American project that upholds double standards and has a special agenda that contradict the interests of our Ummah, and thus finds in the Muslim Brotherhood an obstacle in the way of executing that agenda. Therefore, they unfortunately promote a very wrong and negative image of us. This forces us to act and try to communicate with think tanks and research centers, academics in universities, the people, and the media, whether the local or the international one.
SM: Fine, but we can claim that the Egyptian media is controlled by the Egyptian government, while the western media is not controlled by the western governments. What’s stopping the right image of you to reach the world then? Are they conspiring against you?
Mohamed Habib: No, but naturally there are centers in the U.S. and Europe that carry out the agenda of the U.S. government. But there is also an independent media that has a role in educating the populace, and thus improve our image in their minds.
SM: Is there a Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.?
Mohamed Habib: I would say yes. There are Muslim Brotherhood members there.
SM: Then what are they doing there?
Mohamed Habib: No, there are already existing institutions; there are laws and a constitution that they operate under in order to have a role in serving the American society. They are part of the American society and they want to an active positive role in it, and a part of that is to spread a positive image of Islam along with its values, culture, history and teachings.
SM: This is naturally very important. Who represents you in the US?
Mohamed Habib: Well, there are there those who do represent us, who do that role.
SM: But it’s not CAIR, right? The Council for American Islamic Relations? Many people say that they are your front. Other people say that its ISNA. But back to CAIR, some people from the Muslim Brotherhood have denied having a connection with CAIR. Do they really represent you?
Mohamed Habib: Ehh, this is a sensitive subject, and it’s kind of problematic, especially after 9/11 …
SM: For them to say that there is a relationship between you two?
Mohamed Habib: Yes. You can say that.
SM: Gotcha. What kind of relationship does the Muslim Brotherhood have with Hamas? Do you offer them support of any kind?
Mohamed Habib: Hamas, like any Muslim Brotherhood entity, is not related to the other entities. But we do support them. We support them with ideas. We support them with advice and vision. We incite the people — in Egypt for example — to donate money and care and understand about the Palestinian cause. Then the civil society institutions carry out the role of facilitators of our support.
SM: Thank you for your time sir.
Mohamed Habib: Thank you.