'West risks losing Egyptian people', FM Fahmy tells BBC

Ahram Online, Wednesday 14 May 2014

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy speaks to the BBC during a visit to London, defends trial of Al-Jazeera journalists, welcomes UK investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (Photo: AP)

Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy has told the BBC that the “West risks losing the Egyptian people” over its reaction to recent events in the country.

The interim authorities in Egypt have faced widespread international criticism for the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and a 'broad crackdown' on his supporters.

Fahmy arrived in London on Monday for talks with British officials.

He will meet his British counterpart William Hague on Wednesday.

He told the BBC that the West was playing catch-up with fast-moving events in the Middle East.

Al-Jazeera journalists accused of terrorism-related offences will get a fair trial, Fahmy asserted. The government is unable to interfere in the case.

"The courts will decide," Fahmy added. "If they are found innocent I will be very happy to see that result."

He said the detained journalists, who include Australian Peter Grieste, had access to medical treatment.

Egypt's relationship with the Qatari government – which owns Al-Jazeera – has been difficult since Morsi's ouster, due to the latter's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Fahmy said this relationship "would not cloud the eyes of the judges."

Fahmy has reiterated many times that Egypt is a sovereign nation and that removing Morsi was the choice of the Egyptian people.

The authorities have designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, as has Saudi Arabia.

"The reason the government banned the Muslim Brotherhood was because of the violence on the streets, the attempt to assassinate the interior minister, the violence against police stations, burning 60 churches, over 300 people killed," he said.

The interim authorities have blamed Morsi supporters and their allies for orchestrating violence in retaliation for his ouster and the crackdown against his supporters. The group denies all accusations that it has used violence.

British officials have ordered an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood over concerns the group is planning radical activities in Britain.

Number Ten confirmed the probe of intelligence agencies into the "philosophy and activities" of the Brotherhood and its potential threat to the UK.

Intelligence services MI5 and MI6 will investigate the group's activists inside and outside of Britain, The Times newspaper said in April.

There was "co-ordination" between British and Egyptian intelligence agencies over the issue, Fahmy added.

He said the overthrow of rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen was "the birthing pains of a new democracy."

"How many years did it take you to make a democracy? Three? It takes time. In 60 years - from 1952 to 2011- we had four presidents. In (the last) three years, we've had four presidents."

"We made some mistakes," he admitted, then immediately blamed them on the Brotherhood. "Those that gained power thought that not only did they win a mandate to govern, they won a mandate to change our identity. Which they didn't."


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