Beyond the face of Tutankhamon:


Today I will try, in sha Allah, to explain the subject of Egypt in different ways. You cannot ignore its importance world-wide. As a place on earth, as a people, with a population of 70 million people,  it is important figure wise and human wise.
We tend to underestimate human resources: the man, the woman, the creatures we are. Unfortunately in our region the human resources become liabilities. If you look at it from the human point of view, the most important thing if you consider it a resource, is the human resource itself. You can’t make anything without humans. You have to have the human as the core, as the centre of  universe activity.
Egypt’s human resources, with a population of 70 million people, have an effect in the region. We export labour, especially to the Muslim and Arab world. At one time all teachers in the Muslim world were mostly Egyptian. Imagine even after 20 or 30 years if you go to  Arab countries you will find a teacher who has been taught by an Egyptian teacher.
With language we are luckily in the Muslim/Arab world because we have the same language. The Egyptian language, because of education again, is very popular. Some people will argue it is far from classical Arabic. The media can spread a message with which you can interact intellectually.  Egypt also has a big role to play in the arts – in the cinema and the theatre. If that role declines it affects the whole region.
We know that Egypt is a very historical place. You can see the pyramids. Egypt is like a history book. Wherever you go, you can read the history.  Egyptology is a subject you can study.
Geographically Egypt is the heart of the world. If you look at the continents, Africa, the Mediterranean, the north and the south, Egypt has a unique position in the corner, which is very important. Trade-wise there is the Suez Canal. Today  it is  very important.
If something bad happened in Egypt the whole world would be affected. We had the war in 1956. The issue was the Suez Canal after Nasser nationalised it. Some people may have a different analysis but this does not undermine the importance of Egypt in the geographical sense.
Egypt has a border with Israel. Israel in the middle of the world is a big conflict. Look at the last  50 years. In these last 50 years we have had at least three wars with Israel – Egypt alone: 1948, 1967 and 1973.  Egypt is a frontier in the military struggle with Israel. I am not  going to say more. It is a conflict and Egypt is in the middle of it. That is very important.
These are external factors. Internally one has to consider the economic and political system in Egypt because once you say its important you have to open up and see what it is about. And you have to open up the economic system, the political system, the social system. You take that for granted when you talk about economics. People think economics is something separate from politics, something separate from the social system. But it is not. We use that for analysis to make the matter a bit easier to understand.
But if you see human behaviour it is all connected. Academically  we can’t explain it.  Your mind is bogged down by details and you don’t see what this and that is. It is broken down for academic research and for understanding but in a way there is no pure or one hundred  percent political and one hundred percent economic and all that. It is all amalgam, connected, inseparable.
But to make it easy to understand if you look at the political scene in Egypt since 1952 in recent history – I don’t want to go beyond that. There was Nasser’s revolution. It started a new phase in the region, not just in Egypt. It was the starting point for the military state. The people of the state were turned into two groups: the beneficiaries  in power, including the army and the police, and the other people.
Instead of becoming one unit in one state they are against each other. That  did not start and end in Egypt. It was the start for the whole region. Even Africa. It has been like a virus. Since then the situation has remained. It has gone from bad to worse. Some people have the tendency to say Nasser, Mubarak, Sadat when talking about Egypt. You can repeat the same analysis in any other Arab country.
But I  don’t like to put a country under the analysis of one man or two or three men and say this man is better than that man. He did that and the other one didn’t do that. The issue is not that. Unfortunately we sometimes drag on this analysis but it is not right.
What we should look at is the country or the state as a unit – not as a man. We should look at the system instead of what this man does. The system is a dictatorship: you can call him a king, a president, an emir, general, sub general, in Libya akid but  it is the rule of one man.
When you have people who want to manage their own affairs they should be  represented by  somebody who looks after the people’s interests. If you have a man holding power in his hand what interests is he going to look after? He is going to look after his own interests. This is a chain which goes  circle after circle. By guaranteeing his own interests he  wants another layer of royalty around him. This layer or royalty lets  him pursue his own interests and  they have to pursue their own interests and you find the state and the country divided between those who are ruling. They look after their own interests and the rest of the state is just lost.
If doesn’t matter  what name it is.  Maybe somebody said Nasser was a bit better than Sadat and Sadat was a bit better  than Nasser or  Mubarak – they are all the same in the point of the rule of man. In the state of the army, the state of intelligence and  the police state the interests of the majority are lost.
In economic terms Egypt has the same dimension: internal and external. The internal problem in Egypt economically is a political one. I want to make that clear without going into too many details. But if you look internally in the economic scene in Egypt the problems are political: there is political corruption.
Some people talk about privatization and all these nice things. When Nasser came he nationalised the Suez Canal. Everybody was happy. Now everybody is talking about privatization. We in this country went through privatization with Mrs Thatcher. She was quite a figure.  It was a democratic movement. She took a long time to introduce it.  Academics studied privatization, the market reacted to privatization. The regulator studied  it carefully and made  regulations which prevented abuse.
 Privatization or nationalisation is an instrument. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad. Some things cannot be done in the private sector. They have to have nationalisation. They say it is monopoly. But monopoly is sometimes a healthy thing because they are not controlling the price. They are controlling the finance. Sometimes in a state you need huge finance which the private sector cannot provide. The government provides it.
Looking at the issue of privatisation or nationalisation  in the end the people  own it. When you started with privatisation they said you are selling what the people owned for a second time to the people. This is simplistic. It is deeper than that. It is an issue which depends on the regulator. It depends on the institutions, how they evolve their decision how  to participate and anticipate in the system. This is the only guarantee of a good outcome. But if you have a dictatorship it doesn’t matter if you call it nationalisation or privatisation. Nothing will go to the people.
They are talking about growth, six percent, five percent. First in economic terms when it comes to Egypt. I am just explaining the internal situation as it effects Egypt because it is very important in the global context.  If something affects Egypt, the importance of Egypt will dictate its affect world wide.
You have all this economic growth of six percent or from four to six percent. First, again politically you cannot rely on these statistics. They do not have statistics. They lie, they cheat.
Secondly one of the dangers in such an economy like the Egyptian economy or the Muslim economy there is multi-currency. Here if I am sitting in the exchequer they have the details every half an hour. That is the only way they make decisions. They manage the economy.  And it is in sterling.
In the Egyptian economy there are two currencies and you cannot have data. The data represents Egyptian currency but people deal in the street in dollars. And amazingly the dollar goes down everywhere in the world except in Egypt. It is isolated. The people of Egypt do not trust their own currency as a result of not trusting the  political system.
In this sense you don’t believe the statistics. And even if you believe the  statistics – growth of six percent  – what is the growth? Building a tourist village. Egypt has been spending a lot of resources in building up the country. First of all to understand the growth you have to start at a starting point. If you are very under-developed the rate of growth has to be high in the beginning. But you stabilise. Because Egypt is so low the infrastructure is dismantling. You need improvement  in the scale of 70 million people. You have to have a percentage and within that percentage you have to understand what it is.
You have people who are in poverty and you are building a tourist village. Growth is okay but who is benefiting from the growth. Growth in itself does not represent the quality of life. Even in economic terms  they do not measure the income. They say the quality of life. Even if the growth is six, seven, ten or even 50 percent but the quality of life is not improving. What is growth? It doesn’t mean anything. It means bad things if you try to analyse it.
 Go further than growth and poverty. What about human rights? We don’t live actively in the economic sense before we feel our humanity. If you feel your dignity has been taken away what does your bank account do to you? What will growth do to you. Even  in the economic sense you have to start with what gives you your own human element. The priority is to respect a person as a human being first. Then come economic considerations.
Some  people would go further and say if  people are hungry there is no humanity. What I am saying about dignity is that you guarantee food, clothes, an acceptable standard of living. That is a part of the human being. A human is not just a life. We have a soul and a body and both of them have to have dignity. The dignity for the soul is that the body has to be clean, well fed. This  is a privilege to us in a country like England. It is illegal in England to have no income or no house.  The regulator considers the principle of having to establish your humanity first.
Egypt is the mother of Hassan Al Banna our founder. The Muslim Brotherhood is just the Muslim people. First of all they are people who felt, like their founder, that the spirit of Islam is diminishing. You call it conspiracy theory or the world wide problem. History can be represented from many different angles.
But in Egypt the true spirit of Islam faded away and he saw no hope without work to bring it back.  We are humans, individuals who as part of society have laws as well. When don’t just become a good society by everybody doing random actions. We have rules. As Muslims we believe that if you follow the rules you become a good society. If you don’t follow the rules you become a bad society.
Within this concept was a  man who was intellectual and clever. He founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Other sectors are threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood. Why? I wouldn’t talk  for them. I would see it myself as a good and pure understanding of Islam. Whoever  is the enemy of Islam hates Islam because of its good qualities and way of life. They claim we are not democratic. Islam is more democratic than any democracy in the world. This is not the issue. The issue is feeling threated by people who understand Islam in its purest way and they are good people. They do understand Islam as action. In a society we are not all intellectual.
People differ in their degree of intellectuality. But the majority, when they see somebody, they  do not start to  judge him intellectually. You see him as human. He is useful to you and you try to be useful to him. He is nice to you – whatever the word nice means – and  you try to be nice to him. He treats you good, you treat him good. This is what is important.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have learned that, they have practised that. They spread that in Egyptian society. You can see it from the enmity of other people towards them.   But what is the issue? The issue of being religious, the issue of being humble, the issue of serving society. That  threatens the idea of having one-man rule. The most dangerous thing for people who want to rule on their own is to educate people. Islam in general  and the Muslim Brotherhood was very careful to educate people from the main source of the Koran and Sunna. They came with solutions to complex issues.

We came to the Muslim world and Egypt at a time when we were very ignorant about our own faith. We disputed some of the minor issues which people used to fight for in the name of religion although the right position is negligible towards these issue.

The famous quote from Hassan Al Bana was that we co-operate on what we agree and leave the issue on what we disagree. This mood of changing the whole country, especially as far as the geographical and political issues resulted in the conspiracy theory that his movement would unite the area again. And we spent to much to break it. Someone is going to come and unite it again and they are a threat.

This is where the Muslim Brotherhood came to Egypt. It reminds me of Pakistan for example, the struggle to have a Muslim country in the region of India and Pakistan. They celebrated becoming Muslim state and today Muslim people are killing each other. They are doing a very good for whoever.  Whatever name it is: army, terrorism, skeikh.

My point is that for one section of society for one nation the importance is not the details of the struggle, the death toll at the end. They call it religion and they kill each other. This is becoming a more complicated game. The media play a major role in it.

Then again in the political thing they try to level accusations. You can’t just fight somebody by saying he is wrong. You accuse him of too many things which are the slogans today. They mix politics with religion. Just give it a minute of thought. What is religion? What is politics? I would say linguistically if somebody  divided in his intellect such a phrase then he neither understands politics nor religion. Politics and religion are the same thing.

They accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of having a slogan Islam Al Hal.. They banned using the slogan. Sometimes they go far to the laughing point. They banned the slogan – it  is illegal.  But in article 2 of the constitution of the country it says that Islam is the main religion. Somebody says Islam is the solution. Again it is a dictatorship, it is about interests and feeling threatened.

From my point of view as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood it is a safety valve. If terrorism and fanaticism exist today, which is different from fundamentalism, the Muslim Brotherhood is a safety valve. It educates people from the main source. It is like God put a barrier to these funny idea which drive people to use violence in the first place.

The Muslim Brotherhood, because their attitude is clear, their books are there, you can read them. They educate people. They have no attitude towards violence in general. If the Muslim Brotherhood would be allowed to be activated politically and in social terms, they would absorb all these people who have this aggressive thinking. They would absorb them, they would calm them down and they would direct the religious abuser out of the contest of having energy.

I will end up by the uncertainty.   We have a system which is dictatorship, corruption, economically and politically. They are going downhill, they  are having a negative effect in the area. They lost the international position and their leader Mubarak – I say now it is not Mubarak it is the Mubarak dynasty, his wife and two sons who feel they own the country. He is nearly 80 and he is desperate with his wife to pass the authority to his son Gamal. Gamal came from no political background and  he is being forced. If you force someone onto the system in a country like Egypt you will find  that maybe the people accept his father but they do not accept him, especially the army.  Until now the army feels that the revolution is theirs.  They feel privileged because they did the revolution and they feel threatened by somebody out of the army.

America is not sleeping. They have a plan for Egypt. Israel has a plan and Mr Mubarak has no deputy. We have no idea where we are going and how we are going. The man says I will serve the country till the last drop of my blood but you can’t live until the last drop. Sometimes you die with your veins full of blood and what is going to happen nobody knows. This uncertainty adds to another dimension to the international problem for Egypt. Where we go, as we say only God knows. With the mercy of God we do our work, we hope to be positive and we ask God to  bring about a good thing for all the Egyptian people and for all the world. 

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