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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).

The political advisor to the interim President (advisor and now spokesman of the military regime) was a good choice for the military junta to justify the killing that took place in what we could name "The Black August" over the past week (on August 14th in Rabaa and Nahda then 16th and 17th throughout the nation).

Compared with El Baradei who resigned over the killing and the bloodshed, and who opposed the use of force to end the sit-ins and called for peaceful solutions, Hegazy is the direct true opposite, as he, representing the Egyptian everlasting militarized ideology, is a person who believes in building a "modern" nation and a State by all Egyptians who are "united more than ever before", as he said, behind "the military" (and – of course – a charismatic military ruler).

It was not haphazard that the new "militarized" regime chose Hegazy to represent them in this press conference, being well dressed in a civilian uniform and well versed in English language. He was a good replacement to El Baradei as a civilian and Col. Ahmed Ali, the military spokesman. Hegazy does not have to lie because he defends his own belief on this matter; he defends "the rule of the military generals" as the path to "modernity" as an alternative to democracy under the strictly unified mentally pre militarized mass of the society.

This was exactly the dream and the modernist project of Mohamed Ali Basha in the 19th century and then that of Nasser with a Marxist Maoist twist in the 20th century. It is exactly equal to the Nazi way in Germany of Adolf Hitler who wanted to inspire the German nation towards that end. It seems elementary certain that Hegazy believes that El Sisi and the military would be the objective equal to Mohammed Ali and Nasser in the 21st century version.

The past days' events in Egypt demonstrate the extreme virulence of a military dictatorship that seems to be back (or remained) in the political arena, the incapacity of the international community to firmly condemn the violence used against civilians, when it is so-called led against "islamists", and the manipulation's strategy driven by a power that cannot rely on any democratic legitimacy.

Came to power through what is first, described as a revolution by those who, ignoring the democratic frame when applied to islamists, reject the idea of a coup d'état, the army now reveals its true face, strengthening some people in their blind support to a brutish regime, as long as it pretends to be opposed to 'bearded people', sometimes embarrassing its followers from the first days, when it is not scaring away to Vienna its supposed leader, worried to be one day sued for crimes against humanity.

We are told that some churches are burnt down, Christians are threatened, and museums are stolen. The "charia" application is claimed, "djihad" is called. Over and above the death of individuals, it seems that once again we assist, and in the extension of a politics expressed by Bush in 2001, to a war between the "good" and the "evil". Today, the army introduces itself as the life saver of Egypt, the Middle East, even of the world against obscurantism and the conservatism of the so-called islamists. Playing the modernity and minorities' protector card, the army justifies by the violence used against Coptics and the destruction of the national heritage, the declaration of the state of emergency and the bloody repression towards the "guilty": the Muslim Brothers or the islamists in general.