FILE: Muslim Brotherhood (MB) dissident and former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh
CAIRO – 19 February 2018: In light of Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh’s arrest in recent days over six charges, including incitement, Egypt Today takes a look at the man of the hour’s life and deeds.
Perhaps one of Aboul Fotouh’s most notable moves was when he decided to secede with the Muslim Brotherhood after joining them and working with them since 1987, for choosing to run for presidency in 2012. While he cited the reason for their divorce as “an incompatibility of ideologies”, the real motive behind their secession was probably the Muslim Brotherhood’s intention to have another member run for presidency and win.
Yet, while their divorce was widely displayed, many still believe that he is very much affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood till this day. A former Brotherhood leader, who split from the group in 2002, Tharwat al-Kherbawy said in statements on Wednesday night to DMC channel that Aboul Fotouh is going to be tried due to being a member of a terrorist group, not just because of his connections with them.
“He never split from them, despite pretending the opposite. He still has strong connections with them, and can’t really judge anything properly,” Kherbawy added.
While very much logical, seeing that the Egyptian state has been targeting any activists rooting for instability lately, many suspect that Aboul Fotouh was indeed part of a bigger plan devised by the Brotherhood to undermine the stability of the state.
So who is Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh?
By profession, or one of his professions, he’s a physician. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh graduated from Al-Kasr Al-Einy Medical School. But he also graduated from Cairo University with a degree in law. He then went on to pursue a Master’s in Hospital Management from Helwan University.
An activist from a young age, Aboul Fotouh took on the position of Student Union president when he was still studying medicine. He then took up the same position in Cairo University when he was studying law. According to the BBC, “The doctor's own generation helped revitalise political Islam and the Brotherhood as student activists in the 1970s.”
Of Aboul Fotouh’s most memorable moments of his youth, was his public debate against late President Anwar Al-Sadat. “He openly criticized the restrictions on campus protests and Muslim preachers, making the president angry about his lack of respect,” the BBC reported.
But that was simply the making of an activist. Unfortuantely, Aboul Fotouh would become a hardcore Islamist in his youth – and possibly in modern day.
“As a co-founder of the first cell of the Islamic Group (al-Gamaat al-Islamiyah) he believed that violence was permissible to spread the message of Islam and establish an Islamic state,” BBC wrote.
As the 2011 uprising came about, Aboul Fotouh was standing in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ranks; waiting and rooting for the right moment to appear. The BBC reports in 2012 that he was “exhorting” Western powers to rest at ease should and when an Islamist takeover happens.
“Contrary to fear-mongering reports, the West and the Muslim Brotherhood are not enemies,” Aboul Fotouh voiced in The Washington Post.
Yet one must value Aboul Fotouh’s ability to connect with the youth nicely – having taken to social media platforms for communicating with them. While campaigning for his presidential candidacy, Aboul Fotouh promised youth that 50 percent of the appointed officials would be under 45 years of age.
During an interview with the Middle East Institute in 2013, Aboul Fotouh stated his reason for separation from the Brotherhood was due to his desire to run as an independent candidate in the presidential elections. “I also opposed the Brotherhood’s mixing of religious and political life. The Brotherhood was established as an Islamic call and education organization that intended to change society from the grassroots level. Its biggest mistake is its involvement in politics.”
Furthermore, Aboul Fotouh also stated that religion and politics should never mix. “This does not mean that religion should play no role in politics, but I am against a religious state. A religious state means that those ruling the country are representatives of God. A religious state creates discrimination among citizens, when they should be treated according to the rights of citizenship. Gender, race, or religion should not determine your rights. You are an Egyptian and that alone determines your rights.”
Having read that statement was quite ironic, since in 2012 he had assured Western governments that an Islamist takeover would be a good thing in Egypt. But not only is it ironic because of the clear contradiction in ideology, it is also ironic because intel from the government revealed that he had been in contact with Brotherhood leaders in London.
Aboul Fotouh, according to the Interior Ministry’s statement on Thursday, conducted a series of secret meetings abroad, including the latest meeting in London on Feb. 8, when he communicated with member of the international MB organization Lotfi al-Sayed Ali Mohamed, and two MB members who fled to Turkey, namely Mohamed Gamal Heshmat and Hossam ad-Din Atef al-Shazly.
“The aim behind the meeting was to set the mechanisms of carrying out MB chaotic schemes and exploiting the accompanying political atmosphere,” the statement read.
Pleading transparency, Aboul Fotouh is not an easy character to detect. His dealings and ties seem illusionary, but Aboul Fotouh was indeed in London, because he broadcasted an interview from there. He returned from London on February 14 and was detained the day after.
So, who is Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh? Another contradictory character that resurfaces every once in a while, pleading transparency and reform? Or simply another activist calling for ‘democracy’?
Is ‘democracy’ an Islamist takeover that shouldn’t be feared?
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