Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt Issue: What the Muslim Brothers Want

Published: February 9, 2011
New York Times

# Essam El-Errian is a member of the guidance council of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

THE Egyptian people have spoken, and we have spoken emphatically. In two weeks of peaceful demonstrations we have persistently demanded liberation and democracy. It was groups of brave, sincere Egyptians who initiated this moment of historical opportunity on Jan. 25, and the Muslim Brotherhood is committed to joining the national effort toward reform and progress.
In more than eight decades of activism, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently promoted an agenda of gradual reform. Our principles, clearly stated since the inception of the movement in 1928, affirm an unequivocal position against violence. For the past 30 years we have posed, peacefully, the greatest challenge to the ruling National Democratic Party of Hosni Mubarak, while advocating for the disenfranchised classes in resistance to an oppressive regime.
We have repeatedly tried to engage with the political system, yet these efforts have been largely rejected based on the assertion that the Muslim Brotherhood is a banned organization, and has been since 1954. It is seldom mentioned, however, that the Egyptian Administrative Court in June 1992 stated that there was no legal basis for the group’s dissolution.
In the wake of the people’s revolt, we have accepted invitations to participate in talks on a peaceful transition. Along with other representatives of the opposition, we recently took part in exploratory meetings with Vice President Omar Suleiman. In these talks, we made clear that we will not compromise or co-opt the public’s agenda. We come with no special agenda of our own — our agenda is that of the Egyptian people, which has been asserted since the beginning of this uprising.
We aim to achieve reform and rights for all: not just for the Muslim Brotherhood, not just for Muslims, but for all Egyptians. We do not intend to take a dominant role in the forthcoming political transition. We are not putting forward a candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for September.
While we express our openness to dialogue, we also re-assert the public’s demands, which must be met before any serious negotiations leading to a new government. The Mubarak regime has yet to show serious commitment to meeting these demands or to moving toward substantive, guaranteed change.
As our nation heads toward liberty, however, we disagree with the claims that the only options in Egypt are a purely secular, liberal democracy or an authoritarian theocracy. Secular liberal democracy of the American and European variety, with its firm rejection of religion in public life, is not the exclusive model for a legitimate democracy.
In Egypt, religion continues to be an important part of our culture and heritage. Moving forward, we envision the establishment of a democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which are central Islamic values. We embrace democracy not as a foreign concept that must be reconciled with tradition, but as a set of principles and objectives that are inherently compatible with and reinforce Islamic tenets.
The tyranny of autocratic rule must give way to immediate reform: the demonstration of a serious commitment to change, the granting of freedoms to all and the transition toward democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood stands firmly behind the demands of the Egyptian people as a whole.
Steady, gradual reform must begin now, and it must begin on the terms that have been called for by millions of Egyptians over the past weeks. Change does not happen overnight, but the call for change did — and it will lead us to a new beginning rooted in justice and progress.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rejim Israel adalah Musuh Manusia, Binatang dan Tumbuh-tumbuhan

Syekh AbdelRahim Shihab, wakil Gaza di dalam ceramah di Masjid NurSyahadah Kg Melayu kangkar Pulai Johor mendedahkan kezaliman rejim Israel yang memusuhi bukan sahaja terhadap penduduk Palestin, malah tanam-tanaman dan binatang-binatang ternakan di Gaza sehingga kemusnahan berleluasa di Gaza di dalam serangan besar-besaran di bumi Gaza pada 27 Disember 2008.

Melalui jentera-tentera canggih, bom-bom dan jentera darat, rejim Israel telah memusnahkan bukan sahaja sejumlah lebih 6500 kematian dan kecederaan manusia, tetapi juga tanam-tanaman dan biantang-binatang ternakan. Pembaziran besar-besaran yang dilakukan rejim zionis kejam itu telah menyebabkan ribuan tenaga kerja terjejas dan makanan-makanan asas rakyat Gaza hilang skelip mata.

Rejim Israel jelas mendedahkan kezaliamnnya merentasi semua jenis kehidupan di muka bumi. Tidak pernah ada suatu bangsa yang sezalim dan sekeras itu terhadap kehidupan di bumi selain rejim Israel.

Kemusnahan yang dahsyat juga dilakukan Israel terhadap infrastruktur dan bangunan-bangunan awam. Diantar statistiknya ialah kemusnahan jalan, jabantan saloran paip air, dan pembentungan. Sekolah-sekolah dan masjid juga dimusnahkan menyebbkan pelajar sekolah terpaksa bersekolah dengan 3 sessi sehari dan setiap kelas terpaksa menampung sehingga 50 pelajar.

Kemusnahan pelbagai bentuk yang dilakukan oleh rejim Israel zalim dan kejam benar-benar menyebabkan keperitan hidup dan kesusahan rakyat Gaza yang termat sangat. Oleh kerana rakyat Gaza adalah suatu bangsa yang beriman yang berjati diri, mereka tidak rela hidup melarat, segala usaha dilakukan walaupun terpaksa menggali terowong-terowong yang dalam dan merbahaya untuk mendapatkan bekalan dari negara jiran Mesir bagi mereka meneruskan hidup sebagai hamba Allah dan pejuang (mujahidin) Palestin dan Masjidil Aqsa.

Syeikh AbdelRahim berada beberapa minggu di Malaysia di dalam rangka mendapatkan bantuan dari rakyat Malaysia.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lauren Booth: Wartawan Inggeris Yang Mendapat Hidayah setelah berada di Palestin

Q&A with Lauren Booth
Broadcaster, journalist and human rights activist Lauren Booth, courted controversy in her native United Kingdom and elsewhere for her views on Middle East politics and her highly-publicised conversion to Islam in September last year.

In a 30-minute interview, Booth, also the sister-in-law of former UK prime minister Tony Blair, spoke with the New Straits Times on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and her role in Viva Palestina Malaysia, a local offshoot of the UK-based Viva Palestina, an international non-governmental organisation working for the speedy creation of a free Palestinian state.

Q: You’ve been an advocate for Palestine long before you were a Muslim. When did your opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict change – was it during your first visit in 2005?

A: Yes, I had to see the conditions in Palestine for myself to realise what was happening. It’s not easy for people to understand the Israeli occupation from our (Western) media because (much of) it is hidden or confused. But when you’re there, the situation is clearly apartheid. In fact, as (South African leader) Desmond Tutu says, the Palestinian situation is worse than apartheid, and he should know.

Q: You’re here for the launch of Viva Palestina Malaysia where you met our former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. What do you think of him?

A: I very much liked Tun Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Siti Hasmah. It’s refreshing to see a former world leader who is dedicated not to making millions from oil, banks or occupations but to setting up foundations for righteous behaviour.

Q: He’s been labeled an anti-Semitic in the Western press due to his views on Israel. Do you agree?

A: If you speak to Dr. Mahathir, it is clear he has neither the personality nor the inclination to be an anti-Semite. He is a thoughtful, pious and philosophical man. I want to tell the people of Malaysia not to be scared of being labeled anti-Semitic when criticising the unjust, disgraceful behaviour of the Israel regime.

The label ‘anti-Semite’ is applied deliberately to quash debate on the Israeli government and its army and we must not be afraid to speak out (on it).

Q: What more can NGOs like Viva Palestina do, apart from speaking out and sending aid, to help the situation in Gaza?

A: It’s becoming clear that what is needed now is a unified Palestinian government. Although NGOs aren’t allowed to be political, I would encourage them to invite (representatives from) Hamas, who may be ministers, and Fatah to come together, at least on foreign land, to see how they can work with both groups to help the Palestinian people and the cause of freedom.

It can also serve as a movement which combines the Palestinian voices with the foreign solidarity cause, in a stronger, more productive manner.

Q: What part does Malaysia have to play in this process?

A: Malaysia’s absolutely pivotal in leading the way in the international arena towards the non-acceptance of the state of Israel. This is important because Israel has demanded its recognition and rights as a state, and yet in 63 years, it has given no assurances that they will in turn behave like one.

Until it learns to do so – by accepting other people’s rights, acting within international law, ending the siege, stopping the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem – every other state should copy Malaysia in not recognising Israel. And to add a proviso, that is not the same as saying every Jew should be pushed into the sea. I’m saying that (Israel) must behave like a state in order for it to receive the recognition it craves for its economic ties abroad. The international community invites Israel to do so so that we can welcome it and salute its people in a way that surely, some of them deserve.

Q: You’ve said before that you don’t like the term “moderate Muslim”. Can you explain why you find that term problematic and in what context?

A: I have a problem with the term “moderate Muslim” or “moderate Islam” because Islam is already a moderate religion. There are a billion (Muslims) in the world already practicing moderation in their lives, their jobs, their families.

I have a problem with how the term is used in the West to divide Muslims into acceptable and unacceptable groups. You can’t be a moderate as well as a Muslim in the West if you feel strongly about politics or if you criticise the United States or Israel. You lose the label ‘moderate’ as soon as you speak up, which has the effect of stopping Muslims from having a political voice or a political position.

We must all be moderate in our behaviour, but I do not accept the label ‘moderate’ if it means I can’t be political as well as a Muslim. I’d rather be labeled a radical right now, if it means I can air my views in solidarity with others.

Q: What are your immediate hopes for Palestine at the moment?

A: I hope that Israel not only eases the blockade but ends it now. The siege of Gaza has lasted longer than the siege of Leningrad, which was a crime of the second world war.

My other hope right now is that President Hosin Mubarak is replaced and toppled, so that the people of Egypt have a greater voice in their government, and therefore, insyaallah, greater cooperation with Palestine in a way that will allow for freedom of movement as defined under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Q: Where do you find keep finding the hope that a resolution to the conflict can be reached in the future?

A: I always have hope. Every time I go to the West Bank, or Gaza or Jerusalem, I see some of the most academically-inclined, clever, determined young people I’ve ever met. Two years ago in Jenin, out of the rubble of bomb attacks, I found talented young people learning photography, singing and the arts at the Jenin theatre. At the Jenin cinema, there are even talks of hosting a film festival.

The young Palestinians amaze me. I’ve cycled around the West Bank with the only cycling team there, made up of wonderful young men who just wished to practice their sport. I’m confident, when there is peace, Palestine will blossom and flower as a state like no other.

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