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Inclusion or exclusion
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 10 - 07 - 2013

Amid mounting worries over the country's stability, voices have been urging the necessity of national reconciliation as the only means to break the current political deadlock in which the country is stuck in.
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb called in a statement issued on Monday for comprehensive national reconciliation, declaring that he may have to go into seclusion if the current circle of violence did not stop, calling upon all conflicting parties to act “responsibly”.
The Grand Mufti Shawki Allam agreed with Al-Tayeb on the necessity of national reconciliation in which all Islamist parties and sectors would be an essential part in the process.
However, reconciliation does not appear to be an easy mission with members of the Muslim Brotherhood citing the return of ousted president Mohamed Morsi as their condition for accepting dialogue.
As for liberal figures, they do not mind the presence of Islamists in the political equation.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is part of the Egyptian political equation and they ought not to be excluded from the political scene,” politician Mustafa Al-Feki told Al-Ahram Weekly.
For many observers, the top priority of Egypt's Interim President Adli Mansour should be containing the anger of the Muslim Brotherhood in addition to their supporters to guarantee a safe transitional period.
“I'm against the Muslim Brotherhood's detention. The situation is getting worse and reconciliation is becoming trickier in light of the current violence,” Al-Feki said, referring to the deadly clashes on Monday in front of the Republican Guard Club which killed 51 people.
“The Muslim Brotherhood always claims it has a flood of popularity. Hence, let them participate in the coming parliament elections to prove themselves,” Al-Feki added.
Liberal activist Mohamed Al-Baradei said the country was in “dire need” of reconciliation and also condemned all violence. “Violence is not the approach no matter what its source, and it must be strongly condemned. Egypt is in dire need of reconciliation,” Al-Baradei wrote on Twitter without giving details about how reconciliation could be achieved.
Activist and defence lawyer Nasser Amin believes that without programmes for transitional justice no one can fold the pages of the past. “Transitional justice programmes are necessary for moving from the past to the future. We should differentiate between the leaders and the crowds of Islamists. The crowds, being Egyptian citizens, have rights to be included in the political scene so as not to be excluded.
“As for the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, they must be prosecuted but not under extraordinary measures. We should ensure their right to have lawyers defending them,” Amin said.
For Al-Feki, moderate political parties must initiate reconciliation, “however, none of them is making an effort in this regard”. Amin suggests establishing an independent body for transitional justice whose members should be characterised by impartiality and integrity.
During the week, Egyptian authorities moved to arrest Muslim Brotherhood leaders as the interim president was sworn in with the challenge of healing a polarised nation following the ouster of Morsi.
Leftist and former MP Ziad Al-Oleimi said the political scene cannot be resumed without the Muslim Brotherhood. “There is a bad need for national reconciliation to restore the country's political stability,” Al-Oleimi told the Weekly.
On the other hand, addressing thousands of supporters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Friday afternoon, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie said that Brotherhood members would only leave their sit-in if Morsi is reinstated as president.
“Despite the bitterness we all suffer, the group is willing to accept the initiatives provided by sincere people who call for the return of complete legitimacy, including the president, the [suspended] constitution and the [dismantled] Shura Council, the country's upper house of parliament,” said the Muslim Brotherhood in a statement on Monday, making any reconciliation effort an impossible mission.
“After Morsi returns as president, we will start a national dialogue on disputed issues to avoid bloodshed and to get the country out of the dark tunnel,” the statement said, referring to Morsi's ouster as “a conspiracy and a military coup against legitimacy”. The group will not accept an alternative, the statement said, warning that the Brotherhood is willing to sacrifice more for Morsi and his legitimacy.
“Reconciliation starts with reinstating president Morsi,” Mohamed Al-Gawadi, Islamist historian and political thinker, told the Weekly. “Everything will settle down with the return of Morsi and then national reconciliation will come followed by parliamentary elections,” Al-Gawadi added.
Similarly, Hatem Azzam, vice president of the Islamist Wasat Party, thinks that the only way out was to stick to Morsi's initiative declared last week in what would be his last speech to the nation.
Al-Gawadi said reconciliation can be achieved only if Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi cancelled his nationwide announcement “for the sake of the homeland”. Al-Sisi's announcement said a new president would be sworn in.


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