Militant Salafist Muhammed Al-Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, insists elections and the democratic process violate Islamic Shariah law. Echoing other Egyptian hardliners, he also says jihad against the Jews is a religious imperative for Muslims.
These are some of the latest choice quotes translated and posted Thursday by MEMRI – the Middle East Media Research Institute.
In the October 4 interview with Egypt’s CBC TV, Zawahiri said:
Just as Allah commands us to pray, to go on the Hajj pilgrimage, and to adhere to monotheism, he commands us to wage Jihad and to implement the shari'a. We want to fully implement the shari'a, within legitimate constraints. We will not implement something if the time is not right, if it is bound to lead to undesirable or harmful results. We want to implement our religion as revealed in the shari'a.
Fighting Israel, fighting the Jews is a religious duty incumbent upon all. The Egyptian government should have been fighting the Jewish enemy. Perhaps due to circumstances – its weakness, its interests – the Egyptian government ignored a religious duty incumbent upon it. Not just the Egyptian government – the Jordanian one as well. This is a religious duty incumbent upon all Muslims.
In the television interview, Zawahiri took the opportunity to deride the election process. Islamic law should rule, he believes, not western notions of democracy. He says he won’t recognize the election results or the legitimacy of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
From the MEMRI-provided transcript:
TV host: I still don't understand how you view the concept of state: You reject democracy, you reject the judiciary because of man-made law...
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: You don't have to go into all those details – I reject anything that runs counter to Islam. Do you agree with that? Likewise, I agree to anything acceptable by Islamic law.
TV host: Do you believe that the elections...
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: Elections are illegitimate.
TV host: Elections run counter to the shari'a?
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: There is evidence for that in the shari'a.
TV host: So you believe that the elections that were held...
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: Allah and the Prophet Muhammad said so. I am willing to sit down and discuss this with anyone who can prove otherwise.
TV host: So you believe that the elections violated the shari'a, and that our man-made law violates the shari'a...
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: Absolutely, and I think that all Muslims should believe this.
TV host: Democracy also violates the shari'a?
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: Anyone who says otherwise is welcome to provide evidence. If such evidence exists, I will take it back.
TV host: So you do not recognize the results of the elections?
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: Absolutely not.
TV host: You do not recognize the president...
Muhammad Al-Zawahiri: I did not recognize the previous president, and I do not recognize this one. I recognize the rule of Islamic religious law.
The vow of jihad is a commonly heard call among Egypt’s Islamic hardliners. One recent example: Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie – the group’s highest ranking official - called it a Muslim duty to launch a “holy jihad” against Israel with the goal of capturing Jerusalem.
On Friday, the newly elected leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said his party aims to institute Sharia as the law of the land in Egypt.
In an interview to CNN on Sept. 11 this year, Zawahiri offered himself as a mediator to negotiate a peace deal between Islamists and the West. Among other clauses, his plan would require the U.S. and West “to stop intervening in Muslim lands,” “end the war on Islam” and “release all Islamist prisoners” while Islamists would “stop attacks on Western and U.S. interests,” “protect legitimate Western and U.S. interests in Muslim lands” and “stop provoking the U.S. and the West.”
Zawahiri’s call to wage jihad against the Jews – delivered just one month after tabling his “peace plan” - renders hard to imagine that he could ever be considered a legitimate mediator.
Watch the translated clip here from MEMRI: