Missing but not missed: Muslim Brotherhood not welcome in Egypt’s national dialogue
After Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called for a national dialogue in April, political parties, union representatives, journalists and others have begun their meetings; however, the Muslim Brotherhood is nowhere to be found on the scene, and none seem to want it, believing that the group no longer has a place in Egyptian society.
“We launched the national dialogue for all thinkers, unions, intellectuals and political forces, with the exception of only one [faction],” stated President Sisi, with the exception referring to the Muslim Brotherhood group, which was designated by the Egyptian government as a terrorist organization in 2013. Experts considered the president’s announcement to mean that the group will never be part of Egypt’s society under Sisi’s leadership.
The absence of common ground between Sisi and the banned group is seen as enough of a reason for the president to exclude them from the national dialogue. “During the incidents of July 3 , I had proposed to them [the Muslim Brotherhood] a final initiative to overcome our crisis by holding an early presidential election and to see if the people take to streets or choose you, and we want to give the people a chance to voice their opinion […] but this did not happen and they [the group] chose murdering. So, there is no common ground,” said President Sisi in a meeting with a group of journalists on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Adly Mansour metro station and electric train on July 3, 2022.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood assumed legislative and executive power through the elections in 2012, its members adopted an agenda aimed at the “Brotherhoodization” of the state’s institutions, which pushed them to be rejected by the Egyptian people, who massively took to the streets in protest on June 30, 2013.
On July 3, 2013, ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who made rapprochement with Iran in his one-year tenure, was arrested by the army, led by then-Minister of Defense Sisi, who was strongly backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States. Afterwards, Morsi supporters and Brotherhood members clashed with security forces and opposition forces. The group later resorted to more violent acts, especially after the dispersal of their sit-ins in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo and El-Nahda Square in Giza, where hundreds of people were killed. In December 2013, the interim government declared the group a terrorist organization by law.
“The basics of the current ruling regime’s legitimacy following the incidents of June 30 is a rejection of the group, which has been recognized as terrorist by the law and rejected by the society,” Gamal Zahran, a professor of political science at Port Said University and former member of parliament, told Jusoor Post.
The exclusion of the group is backed by popular will, and the current regime has to fulfill this will, he added.
Sisi’s indirect instructions of excluding the group have been translated into actions at the first meeting for the National Dialogue Board of Trustees on Tuesday to set the executive regulations of the dialogue mechanism. At a press conference on July 5, the general coordinator of the National Dialogue Administration, journalist Diaa Rashwan, announced that those who are invited to participate in the national dialogue included all Egyptians inside or outside the country, every politician, union member, partisans, and academic students within the legal legislation.
“Each person and every entity are invited to [participate in] the national dialogue. The exception is for anyone who contributes to killing, kills or threatens violence. The Muslim Brotherhood is at the forefront of those are who doing these [issues]. The second category excluded from the dialogue is everyone who does not accept the basis of [the current] legitimacy, the rule in the country,” said Rashwan.
“The Muslim Brotherhood members excluded themselves and pulled themselves out from the society due to their assaults on the Egyptians and their policy of exclusion when they ruled the country,” Nourhan El Sheikh, a professor of political science at Cairo University and director of the Youth Studies & Leadership Training Unit, told Jusoor Post.
When the group took power, they excluded all non-Muslim Brotherhood in all the state’s institutions, she said, adding, “They excluded themselves by burning the Coptic churches and their violence against the Egyptians. They have an extremist behavior throughout their history since the era of the King [Farouk].”
In the past, the group assassinated Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha, the second prime minister of the Kingdom of Egypt in 1948, Nourhan said, adding that she does not rule out that the group was also behind the incidents of the Black Saturday incident, when Egypt’s vital institutions were set on fire in 1952.
Zahran agreed, saying that the legacy of violence that the group carried out against the Egyptian people was enough to exclude it from political life due to their “selfishness, controlling the state’s institutions, and political stupidity.”
According to several reports issued by governmental fact-checking committees, the group’s members used violence as a tool to attempt to “reinstate the legitimacy of Morsi,” especially during the 2013 sit-ins at Rabaa and El-Nahda squares.
The Muslim Brotherhood was part of an Islamist movement in Egypt and the Arab world and delt with Egyptian society with violence, Zahran said.
“All the political currents would never call for including the Muslim Brotherhood in the dialogue because the people will never accept them as a group anymore,” he added.