Al-Gamaa Al- Islamiya won’t return to violence: Leader

24.08.2013 00:09

Aboud El-Zomor, a leading figure in the
ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya,
says the Islamist group will not return to
violence after the Muslim Brotherhood’s
Mohamed Morsi was toppled from the
presidency last month.
Speaking to Time Magazine, El-Zomor, who
spent 30 years in Egyptian prisons in
connection with the 1981 assassination of
former president Anwar Sadat, said: "I
gave my orders to Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya
and the Building and Development Party
[the group’s political wing] that anyone
who does not follow the peaceful way of
protest, or participates in any attack on a
government building or organisation, or
army, or police, or church and so on, will
be dismissed from Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya
and the party."
"This is a final decision,” he said. “We
choose the peaceful political direction as
our way, even in opposition. When we are
now opposing the new, illegal
government, we are going to oppose it
with the tools of democracy."
Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya supported Morsi
during his tenure in office and has
continued to do so after his overthrow by
the army amid mass nationwide protests
against his rule.
Unlike many speakers at the now-
dispersed pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, El-
Zomor also lamented sectarian strife and
condemned attacks on Coptic Christians.
"I have been firm in this position even in
the times that I have been in prison,
without anyone asking me," he said. "I
made a statement saying it is against
Islamic law to attack houses of prayer,
and it is also against the keeping of peace
and harmony in society."
Although El-Zomor stresses the
importance of peaceful protests, another
Al-Gamaa leader, Assem Abdel-Maged, has
adopted inflammatory rhetoric since
Morsi's ouster, fuelling speculation the
group could revert to violence as it did
under Mubarak in the1980s and 1990s.
El-Zomor’s cousin, Tarek, another of the
group's leaders, has used rhetoric
suggesting a return to violence. Both
Abdel-Maged and Tarek are at large and
face charges of inciting violence, like
many other Islamist figures.
Commenting on Tarek, who also served a
long sentence in prison for his
involvement in Sadat's assassination, El-
Zomor said he believes the charges
against his cousin stem from his speech at
a rally in June, when he said Islamists
would “crush” the planned anti-Morsi
demonstrations on 30 June.
"When he spoke about ‘crushing', he was
not referring to the terms of force, of
killing, but rather the numbers, that our
numbers will be much higher," El-Zomor
said. “We ordered him not to appear in
the media and to get out of the scene, in
order not to give anyone a chance to use
his words as an excuse for saying that he
supports the use of force."
On Abdel-Maged, El-Zomor said, "He’s not
allowed to move outside. It’s a way of
keeping them safe."
However, El-Zomor stressed that attacks
on the police are justifiable, due to their
use of excessive force and live rounds. "In
my opinion, it is a natural reaction of the
population against the centres of
unfairness," he said, referring to the
dispersal of sit-ins, which left over 600
protesters dead.
"The use of live fire against people, killing
people, will not resolve the problem. It
will actually escalate the problem. It will
fan the flames. This is not a way to end
the issue. It’s a way to start new
Speaking of his support for Morsi's
Muslim Brotherhood, El-Zomor said the
group was not totally on the same page as
Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya.
"The Brotherhood were insisting on
getting Morsi back. That wasn’t a point for
us. We said, ‘this is not important, that
Morsi come back,’ but rather we can find
another way of reaching a solution," he
Commenting on the release of Mubarak,
he said: “My message to him is, ‘I’m not
against your release, but after the lessons
you learned in prison, you have tasted
the bitter taste of prison, which we have
tasted, the worst of it in your time. When
you get out, do not try to bring back
[Mubarak's political party].’”
"This is a time that passed that will never
come back," El-Zomor said.