Head of Egypt human rights group fears Brotherhood takeover
“While it officially renounces violence, the Muslim Brotherhood is the ideological parent of terrorist movements such as Hamas and al-Qaida. Members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are behind daily forced conversion attempts, violent attacks, and torture against Egyptian Christians.”
By Rhonda Spivak
2/14/2011 Egypt (Jerusalem Post) – Political refugee in Canada and president and founder of One Free World International, says ‘true’ democracy five years away.
Rev. Majed el-Shafie, an Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity and was tortured and condemned to death, fears that the current upheaval in Egypt will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood.
Shafie is alive today because he managed to escape Egypt and get to Israel by driving a jet-ski from Taba in Sinai to Eilat in 1998.
Rev. Shafie, who was eventually given political asylum in Canada and now lives in Toronto, is the president and founder of the largest human rights organization monitoring events in Egypt, known as One Free World International, El-Shafie Ministries.
His organization, which monitors violations in Egypt and other Arab states against the Christian minority, has 24,000 people in Egypt alone updating him on the situation on the ground there.
“We have people all throughout Egypt who are informants letting us know what is really going on there.
According to Shafie, “the Muslim Brotherhood has used the demonstrations in Egypt to advance its agenda. They are going street to street, door to door asking people to go out to demonstrate... They want a hand in the new government. They are being more aggressive, more active, are coming out in full power.”
Shafie says that the Muslim Brotherhood is popular with the poor, illiterate people of Egypt “because they provide the basic food and necessities to them... The Muslim Brotherhood is very wealthy. They own supermarkets in Egypt and they get funds from countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
He believes that if elections are held in Egypt in the near future, the Muslim Brotherhood will likely come to power.
Shafie, 34, was born a Muslim in Cairo to a distinguished family of lawyers and judges. He was exposed at an early age, through a Christian friend, to hatred toward the Christian minority in Egypt. He decided to convert to Christianity and subsequently wrote a book about it. As a result, he became an outcast and a victim of oppression.
He began a mission to insure that the Christians in Egypt had all the same legal rights as the Muslim community there. After beginning a ministry which built two churches, a Bible school and a medical clinic, he established a newspaper to request that the Egyptian government grant equal rights to the Christian community.
The government did not tolerate this, and Shafie was arrested in 1998 and taken to the torture section of the Abu Zaabel prison in Cairo.
“I was jailed at Abu Zaabel jail and tortured for seven days, and then put under house arrest for three months... After receiving the death penalty, I escaped from house arrest and hid with a Beduin family for two months in Sinai.
“Then I went to the Hilton hotel in Taba, [near the border with Israel] and I stole a jet-ski and landed in front of the Princess Hotel in Eilat, in Israel... It was about a three-minute ride on the jet-ski,” he said.
But when he got to Eilat, Shafie was imprisoned again – this time by Israeli authorities because the government did not know what to do in his circumstances. Legally, he could not stay in Israel; but if they sent him back to Egypt, he would be executed.
“I was in an Israeli prison because under the peace treaty with Egypt, they couldn’t take me in,” he said.
He stayed in prison in Israel for “one year, three months, 15 days, 12 hours and 24 minutes. When you are in prison you count every minute.”
Shafie was eventually released through the assistance of the UN, Amnesty International and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which managed to obtain political asylum for him in Canada, where he emigrated and became a citizen in 2006.
Many Western news outlets have adopted the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is a conservative, nonviolent movement. But, Shafie countered: “Nothing could be further from the truth. While it officially renounces violence, the Muslim Brotherhood is the ideological parent of terrorist movements such as Hamas and al-Qaida. Members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are behind daily forced conversion attempts, violent attacks, and torture against Egyptian Christians. The Brotherhood cooperates with Hamas in Gaza and [its] leaders are determined to launch war against Israel.”
“This is a very serious matter and we cannot, under any circumstances, allow the Muslim Brotherhood to increase its influence in Egypt. To do so would be to condemn the Egyptian people, from Christians and other religious minorities to moderate and secular Muslims, to a regime of oppression and religious tyranny that will make Mubarak’s repressive regime seem like a beacon of freedom.”
Shafie said that in Egypt there are “daily persecutions” by Muslim extremists of the Christian population, which makes up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population.
For example, he said that on January 30, a week after the demonstrations began, not far from Cairo, members of two Christian families were killed in a brutal attack by Muslim extremists.
“They were randomly killed... Muslim extremists took advantage of the fact that with all the ongoing chaos there were no police around,” Shafie said. But, he notes, “this was not widely reported in the mainstream Western media.”
According to Shafie, the two families were killed by “Jamt Islamiya,” a group that “was born out of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
He is also concerned that if democracy is brought to Egypt too quickly, “we will see the same scenario that we saw in Gaza and the West Bank in 2006, where Hamas won the elections,” or we risk “repeating the Iranian scenario, where pro-democracy forces deposed the shah in 1979 but were quickly overcome by the radical Islamic ayatollahs.”
He noted, “When Egypt had elections in 2005, even though they were rigged, the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 out of 454 seats in the Egyptian parliament. The Brotherhood really got more than 88 seats; but once they got 88 seats, the regime shut down the elections completely.”