Hadeem Sabahi is a former left-wing presidential candidate and one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front, a coalition of parties founded in 2012 to oppose the Mursi government.
In 2011, he was a leading voice in the revolution which overthrew Mubarak and the military regime, criticising how the security forces handled protests. Now, however, he is backing the military and says the army’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has left hundreds dead, is necessary.
He spoke to euronews’ Egypt correspondent Mohammed Sheikhibrahim.
euronews: “There are countries and humanitarian organisations who describe what happened as a disproportionate use of force. Other countries went further and called the actions ‘crimes against humanity’. How do you characterise what the army did?”
Hadeem Sabahi: “We consider that the Egyptian people decided they wanted an end to the sit-ins, which the Egyptian state carried out, after a period of patience, deliberation and after warnings. This was within the law. The actions during the break up itself were proportionate to the degree of resistance. The European countries which made these statements, they are free to say what they want, but we would ask them to be aware of the context. And we ask them to understand something very important: there is a difference between the errors made as a result of implementing the decision, and the decision itself. I ask all those European countries that made these condemnations, albeit with the insufficient information which they had at the time, where were these countries when terrorism erupted in Sinai? Where were they when the churches were burnt in Egypt? Where were they when police officers were being slaughtered in police stations? And when innocent people were attacked in the streets?”
euronews: “The Egyptian Salvation Front has been accused of double standards, with regard to its position of the army and police. What you are saying now is not what you were saying during the first revolution?”
Hadeem Sabahi: “When the army decided on January 25th and on June 30th to stand with the people, we gave them what they deserved, that is appreciation and respect, because of their position with regard to the Egyptian people. We also asked the Egyptian police, on January 25th, to stand with the people, but they stood against us. So, at that time, we stood against them. But they stood WITH the people on June 30th, so then we supported them, so there is no double standard.”
euronews: “There is a fear on the streets of Egypt of a return to what they call security with full force and determination, that is a police state. Is this fear justified?”
Hadeem Sabahi: “There is no way at all that Egypt will suffer again from a police state, or any incursion by any security apparatus internally in this country. And the people have proved they are capable of confronting and stopping any move in this direction. We will not return to Mubarak’s regime after we got rid of the Brotherhood one. And as our revolution of June 30th, shows, we did not get rid of Mubarak just to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to take over. And just because we’ve now dropped the Brotherhood does not mean we want to restore the Mubarak regime.”
euronews: “Western countries are re-evaluating relations with Egypt, and some of them talking about cutting off aid, what are the alternatives if this happens?”
Hadeem Sabahi: “If a nation wants to protect its interests in Egypt, that nation has to respect the will of the Egyptian people. At the moment we salute the Arab nations, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan. Those countries that have declared that if aid is cut, then they, Arab countries which are rich in men and money, will compensate for that.”