The PJ Tatler

Egyptian Interim PM: Muslim Brotherhood Must Follow Law, Not Mix Religion and Politics

Egypt’s prime minister said for the Muslim Brotherhood to have any future in the country it must separate religion and state.

Interim prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi also brushed off characterizations of the ouster of Mohammed Morsi as a coup in an interview with PBS.

“If you take a single element, picture, and not seeing the whole picture, you are failing to get the reality,” el-Beblawi said. “As a matter of fact, it started with an uprising of millions in the streets. And then the army just responded to an appeal of the people. And it’s exactly, almost exactly the same as happened with the previous regime, Mubarak. So I don’t see a great difference technically speaking. And I would see that it would have been very bad if we had let down those people.”

He also dismissed assertions that the army planned the grass-roots Tamarod protests. “If the army can move and mobilize millions, it must have magic to be able to convince young people, old people, women to take street for such a phenomena, I would imagine,” the prime minister said.

El-Beblawi said he wasn’t calling for the Muslim Brotherhood to be banned, but clearly laid down an ultimatum that they need to follow or face legal dissolution.

“I always said that the Muslim Brotherhood must respect the rule. This movement is acting as either a party, political party, and political parties shouldn’t mix — use their religion for political objectives. If they are promoting ideas for welfare and this kind, they should abide by the law to make clear their financial resources, to be subject to observation and control, like any social society. We will go by the law,” he said.

“I am very aware that the way to deal with political Islam is not to repress them and to push them underground, but to make sure that they abide by the law, and to make sure that you — we know exactly what they are saying in public, not under the ground. So this is exactly what we think.”

El-Beblawi said the state of emergency in Egypt was extended after an assassination attempt on the prime minister, “but we are forbidden by law to extend it more than three months, unless we have a referendum.”

He said the new Egypt is determined to move toward a culture where critics of the government aren’t persecuted; both Mubarak and Morsi were famous for this.

“I will do anything to fight any liberal who is taken because of what he is thinking, of his opinion. This is definitely something I will think that this is not accepted, and I will fight it,” the interim leader said. “…We said, when we came, we came for a transitional period. We know a transitional period is by definition temporary. But we are fully aware that it’s very important. And we would like to be up to our promise to our people.”