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Full Interview here:
Egyptian Christian scholar speaks on his relations with Muslim Brotherhood
The well-known Christian intellectual, Dr Rafiq Habib, has long-standing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood which are more than the result of having been chosen as Vice-Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party affiliated to the organisation. Moreover, the choice of Dr Habib for this party position comes as no surprise to observers, as he has long been a distinguished researcher on the trends of political Islam.
Contrary to popular belief, Dr Habib is not a member of the Orthodox Church; he belongs to the Protestant evangelical sect of Christianity.
Nevertheless, his acceptance of the position as Vice-Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's party has, according to him, brought forth condemnation and disapproval from the majority of Christian communities in Egypt. In his conversation with "Egypt Today", Dr Habib indicates that the philosophy behind his decision to accept the position is an attempt to reassure Christians about moderate political Islam as represented by the Muslim Brotherhood. He also pointed out that Christians fears about the organisation are unfounded; in the coming days, he said, the basis of the fears will be shown to be false.
Ahmed al-Khatib: How did the idea of choosing you as Vice-Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party come about?
Dr Rafiq Habib: I am a founding member of the party and my name was mooted when it was suggested that deputies be appointed from outside the Brotherhood.
AK: Don't you think that the organisation's decision to choose you and your agreement to take up a leadership post in a party affiliated to an Islamic organisation is surprising given that you are a Christian? What made you accept the position?
RH: My acceptance of the post of Vice-Chairman was based on several things. First, political programmes founded on an Islamic reference are the most expressive of the wider Egyptian society. Programmes which reflect this social aspect and adhere to its frame of reference, including the values and principles of society, represent an important experience. That is, political action through civilisational particularity. This experience could adopt a position giving expression to society and its new relationship with the state. The state that existed under the former regime was Islamic according to the constitution, secular in practice and a secular tyranny in reality. As such, there is much important experience that has been absent from our communal experience for the past six decades; that is, the building of a political system which takes into consideration the nature of society and its artistic, cultural and civilisational particularity. The second thing is that when an organisation such as the Muslim Brotherhood undertakes to found a political party, this is an important issue in light of the majority decision that the party must be independent of the parent organisation. The third reason is that Egypt faces many challenges, a transitional stage and the appointment of a new constitution. And the most important reason is the existence of a real chasm between the Christian community and the Islamic trend.
AK: What is the nature of this chasm?
RH: The Christian communities have certain perceptions and concerns about the Islamic trend. They look at it as if it is a single entity and envisage an al-Qaeda network paradigm as the quintessential expression of this trend. When you ask a Christian why she or he fears the Islamic trend, they speak about the most extreme section of the movement, which lacks a popular following as the nature of Egyptian society means it adapts poorly to extremism. In addition, the Christian community has an image of the Muslim Brotherhood which is contrary to the reality of the movement. By virtue of my study and research of the Brotherhood, I've come to realise the existence of an enormous chasm between it and the Christian community. Once Christians come to know the reality, they may accept or reject it; however, what is most important is that they come to know it first.
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Last edited by DET. IRONSIDE; 06-10-2011 at 05:40 PM.