by Lucky Gold, CNN
There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy
Mohamed Morsi, one of three leading candidates for the presidency of Egypt, appeared on Amanpour on Wednesday. The American-educated engineer leads The Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
As Egypt’s most powerful political movement, controlling half of parliament, winning the presidency would give the Muslim Brotherhood – and Mr. Morsi - sweeping power to control Egypt’s future.
But what would that future look like? He was asked if a Morsi government would tilt toward a fundamentalist theocracy, reflecting the Muslim Brotherhood slogan - “Islam is the solution.”
Morsi answered in Arabic with an English translator: “The Egyptian people are freely making their choice now… We want to transform from a president of the institution to an institution of the presidency. To an executive branch that represents the people’s true will and implements their public interest.”
He was asked if Morsi’s (and the Muslim Brotherhood’s) Egypt be more like secular Turkey or fundamentalist Iran?
“There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy,” said Morsi. “There is democracy only…The people are the source of authority...that’s democracy. And that agrees with consultation called for in Islam.”
They are my sisters
He was then asked about the role of women in an Egypt with a President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in charge.
“The role of women in Egyptian society is clear,” said Morsi. “Women’s rights are equal to men. Women have complete rights, just like men. There shouldn’t be any kind of distinction between Egyptians except that is based on the constitution and the law.”
When asked if he could guarantee that he would retain the law that makes it a crime to sexually abuse women, Morsi said, “It will be impossible to allow this kind of abuse in the shadow of a constitutional state, a lawful state, a state that protects the dignity of a person.”
To drive home his point, Morsi briefly broke into English: “They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife, and my mother. They are all Egyptians. There are no differences whatsoever among the people of Egypt.”
A great country, proud and ancient
He was then asked a crucial foreign policy question – would a Morsi government put the existing peace accord with Israel to a national referendum?
“Egypt is a great country, proud and ancient,” said Morsi, “and is a member of the United Nations. Egypt…in its new regime respects all the treaties and agreements that have been implemented between it and between the states of the world.”
“At the same time,” he added, “we say that what the Israelis have done in terms of violations in the past must be taken into account by the new Egypt… It’s now time for the Israelis to know that the peace accord must be respected by both sides.”
CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.