By Mick Krever, CNN
On the day former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy emerged from four months of military captivity to face trial, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa el-Din implied to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Egypt is not on a “proper path to democracy,” while blaming that state of affairs on Morsy.
Bahaa el-Din said that it was under Morsy’s presidency that “freedoms began to be taken” and “the constitution was no longer upheld.”
“Having said this,” he said, “we need to keep our eyes fixed on not continuing in that road, and as quickly as possible, as strongly as possible, going back to a proper path of democracy.”
The deputy prime minister represents a voice of moderation in the interim government at a time when Egypt has become hyperpolarized, violent, and politically bewildering.
He admitted to Amanpour that compromise had become a “dirty word” in Egypt.
“Egyptians are suffering,” Bahaa el-Din said. “But let’s make no mistake about this: Egyptians are suffering as a result of the policies that were adopted particularly during the year of the reign of ex-President Morsy.”
But the deputy prime minister said he was urging all political actors in Egypt not to lose sight “what is essential” to the people, which he identified as economic recovery and “the preservation of the democratic path.”
“It’s a time of polarization at a very high level. And it is precisely during those times that one has to try and look at what is ultimately better for Egypt, and better for the Egyptians,” he said.
“I do believe that at some point we will have to reconsider and look at how to, you know, bring back into the political fold various political parties.”
That does not mean that “those who committed crimes” will be included in that process, he said, referring tacitly to Morsy and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
But Egypt must “ensure that the youth who have entered politics perhaps on good faith, who have lost their way along the path, are not left out.”
Bahaa el-Din’s most public crusade as a moderate has been to try to restrain a proposed law that could severely curb public assembly.
“Once violence breaks down a society, once there are killings, once there are churches being burned down, once there are confrontations in the street, then you have to ensure that we do not as a society pay the price by forgoing freedoms and rights that Egyptians, and the youth in particular, for such a long time,” he said.
“I think we should expect some things to happen in the right way, some things will take more time, some things to be bumpy – but at the end what matters is whether we are progressing in the right direction, and I think we are.”