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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to NewsHour: Use Democratic Process Not Protests

December 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei told the NewsHour that Egypt's new constitution denied basic human values. On Wednesday, a member of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party responded. Margaret Warner speaks to Waleed El Haddad about how the constitution outlines protection of rights and the country's economic crisis.
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MARGARET WARNER: Now a counter to our interview with ElBaradei earlier this week.

For that, we turn to Waleed El Haddad, an official with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. I spoke to him late this afternoon.

Waleed El Haddad, welcome.

This new constitution that’s now law remains in the eyes of many Egyptians a very polarizing document. How does President Morsi plan or hope to overcome that divide?

WALEED EL HADDAD, Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party: I would like to say that we have the first constitution in the Egyptian history that Egyptians went to the polling stations and put their voices and chose the first document expressing their will.

Maybe there is some sort of disagreement for some points or some articles. And the president choose to have a meeting and a dialogue and calling for a dialogue for all political forces of ours to sit together in order to discuss these points or these articles. And he promised that he will be committed to offer these articles to the next parliament in order to amend, if there is a dialogue between the political powers.

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On Monday's NewsHour, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei told NewsHour Egypt's new constitution defied "basic human value."

MARGARET WARNER: What can you say to reassure critics like opposition leader ElBaradei who say that freedoms of expression and religion or protection for minorities and women are being curtailed here?

WALEED EL HADDAD: We find that this constitution clearly protects basic human rights.

If you read the article number 34, you will find personal rights, which is a very important article and achieves equality and the social justice that the people need. There is no answer for some points that Dr. ElBaradei and others mentioned.

We are holding the civil, democratic and modern state, so now I’m calling all my friends in the opposition front to play democratically, the politics democratically, and when — and must play with the people, the grassroots, in order to grab the voices, in order to amend the articles through the parliament, through the democratic institutions, not through such demonstrations in the street.

MARGARET WARNER: There is also concern that it opens the door for Islamic clerics to intervene in the lawmaking process. Does it?

WALEED EL HADDAD: When you read the Egyptian document, the constitution, you will find that for the first time there is new articles for the Copts, for the Jews, for the Egyptian people who are non-Muslims and living in our lands.

We are partners in our homeland. So there is no dominant for one camp or for Muslims only. There is no room for an Islamic or a theocratic state, because the Egyptian people, in the history, they didn’t accept such a state, and they will not accept any role of the theocratic state. They will accept only the civil country, the democratic country, the modern country that we are, as a Freedom and Justice Party, committed to have this political scene.

MARGARET WARNER: Many in the urban, business, and professional class oppose this constitution. Can President Morsi tackle Egypt’s economic crisis without their support?

WALEED EL HADDAD: Yes.

Well, we have a constitution now, and we will have a parliament after a couple of months. So this is the stability that the foreign direct investment is asking. We are in a crisis, yes, but we have several issues in order to pass this economical crisis.

Firstly, we are going to have the loan from the IMF. And now we have, as I mentioned, the stable environments to attract the foreign direct investments. Yes, we will work together. We will produce. We will exert more efforts in order to develop, in order to find the solution for our economical crisis in this era.

MARGARET WARNER: Waleed El Haddad, thank you for joining us.

And you can watch all of our Monday interview with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. Find a link on our homepage.