Egypt Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya says group won't return to violence

Ahram Online, Wednesday 23 Oct 2013

Essam Derbala maintains Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya is distinct from the Muslim Brotherhood and does not necessarily want Morsi back

Essam Derbala
Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Essam Derbala (Photo: Al-Ahram)

A representative from Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya said Wednesday there is no basis for concern that the ultraconservative Islamist group will resort to violence, Ahram's Arabic website reported.

Essam Derbala, a senior board member of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's political wing, the Building and Development Party, said in a press release that his group has been devoted to peaceful participation and protest since the late 1990s.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya is responsible for the assassination of late Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat in 1981, and also allegedly for the murder of 58 tourists and four Egyptians in an attack in Luxor in 1997.

The Islamist group has played a key role in the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, which calls for the reinstatement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the 2012 constitution.

Some critics charge that Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, along with the Brotherhood, have been involved in recent terrorist attacks across the country.

However, Derbala denied Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which ousted president Mohamed Morsi hails, share identical aims, asserting that Al-Gamaa adopts "moderate revolutionary Islamic" beliefs.

Nonetheless, according to Derbala, Al-Gamaa agrees with the Brotherhood that post-30 June conditions are unacceptable.

June 30 witnessed huge nationwide protests demanding the ouster of then-president Morsi, after which a new roadmap was put in place by Egypt's interim-political authorities with the support of the armed forces.  

Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been rounded up since Morsi's ouster, facing various charges including inciting violence.

The vision for post-30 June, however, differed according to the Brotherhood and Al-Gamaa, Derbala added.

"There is no way to solve the current crisis without sacrifice from all parties for the country's sake…else we will only have the debris of [the] country remaining," he said.

Derbala stated that there are three possible options: the "revolutionary" solution, at great cost, or the "repressive" solution, which he says will result in conflict that will deplete all sides.

The third solution is a "political" solution, which Derbala hails as the best option, saying it meets the demands of both opponents and supporters, and upholds popular will and constitutional legitimacy.

"In case this [political] solution is unsuccessful, the country will enter an unwanted bitter struggle between the revolutionary solution and the repressive solution," Derbala concluded.

Several attempts to mediate dialogue between the current interim government and the Brotherhood have all reached a stalemate as the Islamist group insists on the reinstatement of deposed president Morsi.

Aboud El-Zomor, a leading figure in Al-Gamaa Al-islamiya, recently stated that the group couldn't see eye-to-eye with the Brotherhood's demand for the reinstating of Morsi.

"The Brotherhood was insisting on getting Morsi back. This wasn’t important for us. We said... we can find another way of reaching a solution," El-Zomor stated.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya declined to join the 50-member committee tasked with writing the final draft of Egypt's new constitution.

A referendum is expected to take place on an amended charter by the end of 2013, paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

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