Factbox-Policies of Freedom and Justice Party of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) gained most seats in the first round of Egypt’s first democratic parliamentary elections for six decades.
Following are some of the views espoused by the Brotherhood and the FJP on the economy, security, political reform, religion, culture and foreign policy, based on statements by members and the party programme:
POLITICS AND RELIGION
- FJP and Brotherhood officials say they want to build a modern, democratic state based on Islamic sharia law.
- The FJP says in its programme that legislation should be based on the principles of sharia and implemented with the agreement of a parliamentary majority.
- The programme talks of “spreading and deepening” the understanding of sharia as a way to guide individuals and society, echoing comments by officials who say they do not want to impose sharia on an unwilling population.
- It says followers of other religions would be governed by their own laws on religious matters.
- Asked whether the party would seek to make it a rule for Egyptian women to wear the Muslim veil, FJP Secretary-General Saad el-Katatni said: “I cannot draft a law that says an unveiled woman will be forbidden from this or that … (but) I must make her feel that her punishment is in the afterlife.” Most women in Egypt already wear a veil.
- Broadly, Brotherhood leaders say the group supports a free-market economy with a strong private sector.
- Many Brotherhood members have big business interests, including in consumer goods such as furniture and clothing.
- They say they seek to emulate the Turkish experience in terms of economic growth with a focus on boosting manufacturing and exports, but say that does not mean they wish to follow Turkey’s political model.
- The group has said it seeks to gradually expand Islamic banking in Egypt as an alternative to commercial banking that would lure investors, but would leave both banking options available to consumers.
- Hassan Malek, one of the main financiers and business strategists of the Brotherhood, has said: “We want to attract as much foreign investment as possible… This needs a big role for the private sector.”
- Officials have tended to sidestep questions about whether the party would, for example, seek to ban alcohol, a move that would deter tourists, a major source of revenues and jobs.
- Katatni said the party might seek to ban alcohol for Egyptians but allow it for tourists on hotel beaches. Essam el-Erian, deputy FJP leader, said when asked about the issue that it would be a “fatal mistake” to damage the tourist industry.
- Hassan Malek, one of the main financiers and business strategists of the Brotherhood, said he had reservations about dealing with Qualified Industrial Zones, set up under a deal implemented in 2005 that allows Egypt to export from the zones to the United States free of tariffs and quotas provided products contain a certain percentage of Israeli inputs.
- The Muslim Brotherhood is a vociferous critic of Israel. Although it long ago renounced violence as a means to bring change in Egypt, it says those facing occupation have the right to “resist by all means”. The Palestinian militant group Hamas sees the Brotherhood as a spiritual leader.
- The FJP’s programme refers to Israel as the “Zionist entity” and describes it as “a racist, colonising, expansionist and aggressive entity” and says the Palestinian issue is “the most serious Egyptian national security issue”.
- Without mentioning Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, it says international agreements or treaties must have public support and all sides in such agreements must implement them or they can be reviewed. It says many deals reached under Egypt’s old order should be reviewed.
- Asked about the treaty, the FJP’s Erian said: “It is a fact we have a treaty. We are not going to end it.” But he said a new parliament and other new institutions could change attitudes in future if the other side violated it.
- “Any country that relies on aid is a slave to others’ policies and Egypt’s will must be freed,” said Katatni, commenting on aid from the United States that has flowed into Egypt since Cairo signed the peace deal with Israel.
- “That does not mean that we want to cut relations with Washington… We don’t want aid which brings hegemony,” Katatni said.
- Egypt receives about $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid.
SECURITY SECTOR REFORM
The FJP’s programme, like others, calls for deep reform of the internal security forces whose crackdown on dissent in the Mubarak era fuelled the uprising against the president.
Early steps proposed by the FJP include:
- Sacking anyone proven to have been involved in killing, torture or bribery
- Moving anyone assessed to have committed less serious mistakes to jobs that will not have dealings with the public
- Recalling officers deemed to have had a good record but wrongfully dismissed
- Ensuring police academies include human rights training
- The FJP programme says it seeks “freedom of creativity and the protection of society’s ethics, propriety and customs”.
- On music and songs, it says they are for “enjoyment and recreation for the soul” but “are among the arts that have diminished and fallen and have become associated – in the minds of many – with transgressing of ethics and stirring desires.”
- The programme says: “The Egyptian song must be directed towards more ethical and creative horizons that are consistent with the society’s values and identity”
by Shaimaa Fayed in Cairo