Head of Egypt Human Rights Group Fears Brotherhood Takeover

Published: February 14th 2011
in News » World

Rev. Majed el-Shafie, President and founder of One Free World International


When asked how long he felt would be needed before a free election could take place in Egypt, Shafie answered, “Five years from now, there should be an election...


Democracy in Egypt is an infant – it needs to learn to crawl before it can learn to walk.”


Shafie has family in Egypt but “is not in communication with them since they disowned me after I converted to Christianity.” He emphasized that “the people of Egypt have been living ‘in darkness’ under a dictatorship for 30 years – you can’t expect them to adjust to the light right away.”


“Thirty percent of the population is illiterate – they can’t read and write their own name – you can’t give them absolute democracy in the beginning, because it’s easy for them to turn to extremism. The United States and other countries should support Omar Suleiman. We need slow change.


“Democracy as we know it in the West cannot simply be transplanted into Egypt, a country that has never experienced any form of true democracy. Democracy cannot survive where people cannot read their own constitution. It must be taught, nurtured and brought to maturity so that it can flourish.”


If there were elections now, Shafie says the Muslim Brotherhood would win because they are “the most organized group.” In his view, any transitional or new government under Suleiman “will be playing with fire by including the Muslim Brotherhood.”


He is also concerned that if democracy is brought to Egypt too quickly, “we will see the same scenario that we saw in Gaza and the West Bank in 2006, where Hamas won the elections,” or we risk “repeating the Iranian scenario, where pro-democracy forces deposed the shah in 1979 but were quickly overcome by the radical Islamic ayatollahs.”


He noted, “When Egypt had elections in 2005, even though they were rigged, the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 out of 454 seats in the Egyptian parliament. The Brotherhood really got more than 88 seats; but once they got 88 seats, the regime shut down the elections completely.”


Regarding Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, Shafie said that the peace was not one that was really between people.


“It was a cold peace that the Egyptians entered into [in order] to get money from the Americans,” he said. “There is no love lost between Egypt and Israel.”


He said Mubarak’s regime was supporting Hamas under the table by enabling the smuggling of weapons from Sinai into Gaza.


There are reasons for Israel to be concerned about developments in Egypt.


“There is now a whole well equipped army in Egypt [due to American support Egypt received after entering into the peace agreement with Israel]. It is a built-up modernized army that could in the future be at war with Israel.”


Shafie said that unlike Egypt, the Arab gulf states are stable, even though there is no democracy there “because the people are wealthy.” He said that “Saudi Arabia has a higher standard of living than Egypt.”


In Egypt, due to Mubarak’s corrupt regime, Shafie said, “the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, and the middle class is disappearing. The average Egyptian salary is under $2 a day.”


Rhonda Spivak is editor of the online newspaper The Winnipeg Jewish Review, found at www.winnipegjewishreview.com.

Related articles: (Egypt, Mulsim Brotherhood, Israel, One Free World International)

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