Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy speaks to SPIEGEL about the ongoing power struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood, his new role in the government and several recent visits by European politicians … //
… SPIEGEL: Still, you forced a democratically elected president out of office.
- Fahmy: Morsi was democratically elected, but he didn’t govern democratically. I needn’t remind you that the Germans, in particular, had their experiences with a democratically elected politician who then behaved in an undemocratic manner.
SPIEGEL: Are you trying to compare Mohammed Morsi with Adolf Hitler?
- Fahmy: I just want to point to the dangers we saw. And to put a stop to that development, we asked the military for help — in the name of millions of Egyptians.
SPIEGEL: So voting with one’s feet is more important than at the ballot box?
- Fahmy: Our message is that political leaders are accountable to the people. In the case of both Mubarak and Morsi, Egyptians took a clear position: Listen to our voices and react to our demands, they shouted. The other message from Cairo is that a revolution without violence is possible.
SPIEGEL: The revolution is anything but peaceful at the moment. There have been bloody street battles between Islamists and security forces. Do you know how many people were killed since Morsi was overthrown?
- Fahmy: I mourn every death that these conflicts have claimed. Nevertheless, when measured against the historic process we are currently experiencing, we can still call it a peaceful revolution. We are in a very delicate phase. But the judgments some of our friends in the West are making are unrealistic. After decades of dictatorship, we are now experiencing the transition to democracy. But you are using standards that perhaps apply in your political systems.
SPIEGEL: Human rights activists believe that police operations against Morsi supporters have claimed about 200 lives. Security forces killed 80 demonstrators in Cairo on the last weekend in July alone.
- Fahmy: Such excesses are a consequence of political polarization. Passions are inflamed on both sides. Fundamentally different social concepts are colliding. We Egyptians are in the process of seeking a new identity for the 21st century. Who are we? What do we want? What role should faith play? How about politics? And how are Islam and politics compatible with each other? Where do we draw the line between Islamic and Islamist? These questions couldn’t be raised for decades. Now we are searching for new answers, but we haven’t yet learned how to do so while dealing with each other in a respectful manner.
SPIEGEL: So the bloody confrontations are the price for this process of self-discovery?
- Fahmy: We do not shrug off these incidents. The attorney general has announced a full investigation. We will find out who shot at whom.
SPIEGEL: According to independent eyewitness accounts, including those from human rights activists, the culpability lies with the security forces that fired into the crowd. Is an apology from the government overdue?
- Fahmy: I’m familiar with those reports. But there are also other accounts, such as that of Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who claims that his forces only used tear gas.
SPIEGEL: And you believe him?
- Fahmy: I don’t speculate over guilt and innocence. That is a case for the courts and it’s in good hands with the attorney general. But independent of that, the incident is a tragedy.
SPIEGEL: Interior Minister Ibrahim built his career within Hosni Mubarak’s security apparatus. This isn’t the first time he has been accused of using excessive force. Has the old system of oppression returned?
- Fahmy: Don’t leap to conclusions. According to our security forces, we now know that there have never been as many unregistered weapons in circulation as there are now. And when so many people are carrying rifles and pistols, it isn’t as easy to assign blame.
SPIEGEL: What does the interior minister mean when he says that it was a mistake to dissolve Mubarak’s security apparatus? … //
… (full interview text).
Link (for a collateral damage): Endangered: Sharp Rise in Migrant Bird Hunting in Egypt, on Spiegel Online International, Interview with German ornithologist Eric Neuling by Spiegel staff, August 05, 2013 … Given the political crisis in the country, there’s not much hope of tackling it.