By Dieter Bednarz and Volkhard Windfuhr in Cairo
There is too much at stake now, says Sharnoubi. There are the aid payments from Europe and the United States, which Egypt's ailing economy urgently needs. And Morsi himself also needs the West's goodwill. If there is a "power struggle with democratically minded forces," he says, the president will depend on intercession from Washington, Brussels and Berlin.
Sharnoubi wasn't surprised by the Morsi hate video. "Agitation against the Israelis is in keeping with the way Morsi thinks. For the Morsi I know, any cooperation with Israel is a serious sin, a crime." Morsi's choice of words is also nothing new, says Sharnoubi. As proof, he opens his black laptop and shows us evidence of the former Muslim Brotherhood member's true sentiments.
Indeed, the video gaffes do not appear to be a one-time occurrence. In 2004 Morsi, then a member of the Egyptian parliament, allegedly raged against the "descendants of apes and pigs," saying that there could be "no peace" with them. The remarks were made at a time when Israeli soldiers had accidentally shot and killed three Egyptian police officers. The source of the quote can hardly be suspected of incorrectly quoting fellow Brotherhood members: Ichwan Online, the Islamist organization's website.
Few people are as familiar with the contents of that website as Sharnoubi, who was the its editor-in-chief until 2011. The current president became the general inspector of the organization in 2007, says Sharnoubi. In this capacity, Morsi would have been partly responsible for the anti-Jewish propaganda on the website, which featured the "banner of jihad" at the time and saw "Jews and Zionists as archenemies." The threats are attributed to the undisputed leader of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badi. According to the website, Badi's creed is: "Resistance is the only solution against Zionist-American arrogance and tyranny."
It was under the editorship of Sharnoubi, who stresses that he condemns the "Israeli government's settlement policy," that Morsi gave a self-promoting interview in May 2009. Referring to the Israelis, the current president said: "They all have the same nature. They are equally shaped by shrewdness, deception and hate." He added that their only objectives are "killing, aggression and subjugation."
Former fellow Muslim Brotherhood member Sharnoubi expects "no words of regret, at least not sincere ones," for his offensive remarks in the scandalous film. Anti-Israeli rhetoric, he says, is a "cornerstone of the Brotherhood's ideology."
Sharnoubi assumes that cordial moves like the letter to Peres have only one goal: "To secure and expand the dominance of the Brotherhood." Only recently, the president issued a decree that gave him absolute powers, and Morsi currently controls all three branches of government. "He has secured more power than his predecessor Mubarak ever had."
Sharnoubi's vision of a future Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood is horrifying. "They will infiltrate all areas of our society: government offices and ministries, schools and universities, as well as the police and the military. They will eliminate their enemies."
Isn't he exaggerating?
"Not in the least," says Sharnoubi, noting that the Brotherhood is already infiltrating the security apparatus. "The Brotherhood will never give up its power without a fight."
When he leaves the café, Sharnoubi looks toward Tahrir Square, where there is no end to the turmoil. Last Friday, once again, there was rioting and there were clashes between Morsi opponents and the police, and some were killed or injured. For Sharnoubi, this is "merely a small foretaste of an imminent popular uprising."
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
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