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May 6, 2014 3:15 pm

Egypt’s El-Sisi Vows to Finish Muslim Brotherhood if Elected President

avatar by Joshua Levitt

A poster advertising Monday's interview with Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Defense Minister who has resigned to run for president. He is photographed with interviwers ONTV's Ibrahim Eissa and CBC's Lamis El-Hadidi. Photo: Screenshot.

A poster advertising Monday's interview with Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Defense Minister who has resigned to run for president. He is photographed with interviewers ONTV's Ibrahim Eissa and CBC's Lamis El-Hadidi. Photo: Screenshot.

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Defense Minister who has resigned to run for president, was interviewed for the first time on Egyptian television on Monday night, vowing to finish off the Muslim Brotherhood if elected, Egypt’s Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday.

Commercial television stations CBC and ONTV aired the first half of a pre-recorded interview on Monday, with the second to be broadcast on Tuesday evening. El-Sisi’s only rival, veteran Nasserite politician Hamdeen Sabahi, will be interviewed next week by the same hosts, ONTV’s Ibrahim Eissa and CBC’s Lamis El-Hadidi. The election is scheduled for May 26 and May 27.

Asked by Eissa whether Egyptians should vote for him for president on the basis that he would finish the Muslim Brotherhood as a group, El-Sisi said, “Yes. Just like this.” He said that it wasn’t just him but all “Egyptians reject reconciliation with the Brotherhood.”

He said that Egyptians should pay close attention to choosing not just the president but also the next parliament. “What we went through [voting the Brotherhood] was a result of relying on emotions,” El-Sisi said.

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He said that Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater, who is now on trial, “threatened on 23 June 2013 that fighters from Libya, Syria and Afghanistan would enter the country if anything happened to Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. I told him whoever raises a weapon against the Army, we will obliterate him from the face of the earth.”

El-Sisi said that terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula could be eliminated in “an hour’s time” but that it took longer to isolate the militants there because the Army wanted to minimize harm to “women, children and the elderly” in the Sinai. If president, he said that the Army would increase its support of the police in fighting “terrorism.”

He said that he has faced two assassination attempts presumably from terrorist factions.

As president, El-Sisi said, “I will focus on security, stability and development, encompassing education, health and food security.”

He said, “We have 12 million people out of work. We have to work.”

El-Sisi did not address relations with Israel directly, but told El-Hadidi and Eissa that he decided to join military school after the defeat of the Egyptian army at the hands of Israel in the Six-Day war in 1967, when “he was moved by the deep impact of the loss on the psyche of the Egyptian people,” Al-Ahram reported.

When asked to define himself, El-Sisi said, “I’m an Egyptian Muslim who loves his country, his religion and people, I was born and raised in one of the most ancient districts in Egypt [Al-Gamaliya] with cultural diversities.”

Al-Ahram reported that El-Sisi said his neighborhood was near the old “Jews Alley,” a district in Cairo where Jews used to live before they largely fled Egypt in the 1950s. El-Sisi said that no one was questioned when entering the Jewish Synagogue and no one thought of harming anyone. He also said he grew up hearing nearby church’s bells go off every Sunday for mass as a normal thing.

He declared himself a devout Muslim, but said,”The religious discourse in the entire world has deprived Islam from its humanity.”

When asked if he would interfere if someone referred to Muslims in a “wrong way,” he said that the topic required a lot of discussion. “In Islam there was a civil state, not an Islamic one,” El-Sisi said.

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