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Interview by Joël Frei - Institute for Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding (ICP), August 2015

The director of the Cordoba Foundation of Geneva and strong advocate for peace, Abbas Aroua, on the quest for fairness and balance in the Islamic tradition, the need for a secular space in the Arab countries and non-violence as the only effective way towards lasting peace.

You state that Islam is a religion of balance and committed to the search of middle positions. What do you understand by that?

One of the main concepts in the Islamic religion is wasatiya, the middle position between the extremes. This concept is complex because it sums up a set of different ideas. For the Prophet Mohammed, "being wasati" means being just and fair. Wasatiya could be translated into French as "le juste milieu" or "die goldene Mitte" in German. It implies fairness, while the extremes lead to biased positions driven by passions and emotions, not by reason.

In light of propaganda against the movement, media censorship, book banning and bogus Interpol arrest warrants against its founders, the regime clearly sees it as a threat. But why?

In a recent piece on the detention of Algerian human rights lawyer and opposition figure Rachid Mesli, Robert Fisk asked why Interpol is doing the work of Arab despots. Mesli is the subject of an arrest warrant by the Algerian regime that dates back to 2002. In addition to founding Alkarama (dignity), an organisation that defends human rights in the Arab region, Mesli is co-founder of Rachad, an opposition movement to the Algerian regime.

The title is interesting because there is a song that says "WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?"

This piece: "WHO LET THE JIHADIS OUT?" by Hossam Bahgat comes basically to say that SCAF (not Morsi) is the one that let the Jihadis out.

Bahgat said: "MadaMasr's investigation shows that Morsi released 27 Islamists during his rule. The military council released over 800."

Here, the point for Bahgat was not defending Morsi, but it is to point to the abuse of the issue and the deliberate misinformation by both the Minister of Interior and the media (local and international – as he pointed to Associated Press) in this regard.

Bahgat used basically the case of Nabil Mohamed Abdel Meguid al-Maghrabi to make his first case against the minister of interior.

Bahgat said: "Maghrabi's name, alongside those of other suspects, was interesting. Maghrabi was detained in 1979 under the state of emergency, imposed since 1967. Two years later he was accused of involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, although he was already in jail. Now the minister was suggesting the septuagenarian former jihadi had resumed his activities and recreated his organizational links after more than three decades in prison."

When Bahgat criticized a report published by the Associated Press on December 3, filed by bureau chief Hamza Hendawy, he pointed that the information in the report by AP that Morsi released Jihadis as "Morsi issued nine pardons starting soon after he was inaugurated, releasing some 2,000 people" was incorrect because these 2000 were basically from the youth of the revolution detained during the 17 months of SCAF rule (February 2011 till July 2012). They were not radical Islamists. Later, Bhagat pointed that the Jihadis released by Morsi were few compared to those released by SCAF.

1: History Being Repeated

"Structures are always similar in their main features, but they always vary in the delicate details to give some flavor to the acts of history when it repeats itself; yet, every time, it is repeated with many new twists".

It was once said that Tunisia is not Egypt; claiming that the revolution in Tunisia cannot reach or take place in Egypt. The assumption of the fool is always to build an argument based on detailed differences and ignoring the most shocking and alarming similarities. Egypt was another Tunisia after all as it witnessed a revolution on January 25th, 2011.

Celebrating Assad's troops fearless killing of all Syrians, it was said that Syria is not going to be another Arab Sprig country. It was claimed that "Assad has managed to impose his will on the leaders of the world". To the surprise of many, this was the opinion of Olivier Roy expressed in February 2012 when speaking to France 2 channel. Such arguments would have remained true and could have become completely true if one could claim that Bashar Al Assad – who continued to use aggressive military force against his people for more than two and half years – will succeed in what Gaddafi tried to do in Libya in six months of fighting before he was killed.

Now, it is said that Egypt is not Syria; yet, who could be sure that the acts, procedures and mode of handling the opposition by the regime in Syria are not being cloned in Egypt by Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Who could be sure that the disaster in Syria will not be repeated in Egypt against the Brotherhood, the Islamists and consequently the whole society in the same way where the situation escalated in Syria between Bashar and the rest of the non-Baathist Syrians in their different colors?

Syria did not and does not need a Coup or a Counter-Revolution like Egypt now. This is for a simple reason; the regime of Assad still stands and the man on the top of it feels secure against any genuine western, European or American, attempt to remove him from office. El Sisi just thinks the same. He thinks that the more he becomes similar to Bashar Al Assad in everything, the more he would become immune against any act against him by the West. He believed that he would be everlasting in office as long as the Westerners will eventually absorb the shock of the Coup and start dealing with him when he becomes officially and democratically elected as President (of course, the Mubarak way and not the Morsi way).