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Religion and Society

"I chose the Brothers because I wanted to be more positive"

Interview with Dina Zakarya, formerly spokesperson for the Freedom andJjustice Party, by Maria Laura Conte

Her voice is without uncertainties, like the positions she expresses. Dina Zakarya, who is not even thirty, the mother of two twins. With university studies in English and art and a diploma in Sharia, an activist of the Muslim Brothers, was the spokesperson for the Freedom and Justice Party. In was in this capacity that Oasis reached her some weeks ago in order to understand the agenda of the party in power and her perception of the political, social and economic situation of the country.



International Media present every day the dramatic situation of Egypt. It’s economy crumbles and its democratic transition hardly concludes. What is your answer to this kind of analysis? Do you agree with it?



What I agree about is that Egypt is facing a lot of challenges, at present, because we are in a transitional period, after the revolution. It doesn't mean, though, that this is something abnormal. On the contrary, it is something normal that there are challenges we all have to face as Egyptians, either we are politicians or professors, even the people themselves. All of us have to face such kind of challenges because it is just something normal. Anyway, I think that all the procedures that are taken now by the government and the president, and also by people in a responsibility position in different ways, like NGOs or other places not related to the government, they all agree that first of all we have to face these challenges very quickly and second of all that the counter-revolution is very active at the moment: which is also a problem to face.



We can start working on a stable ground, but not now, as we are going through a too transitional and problematic period held by a part of the counter-revolution which is working to make our revolution fail, that's why you can find this image.



I don't agree with the idea of a crisis we cannot deal with, no! I think that we are able, all the Egyptians together, to overcome such kind of challenges.



What are the top priorities for your party, in front of the current situation of your country? The most urgent issues on the table, on your table?



Our three main issues as a party are the following. We really do care about working for the sake of people, trying to face their daily problems. Talking about the economic situation, actually, we are trying to inform them properly about the recent situation, because sometimes people don't know exactly what is going on. This is very important to let people be more patient. Another very important situation we care about is the preparation to the elections. We are preparing ourselves very seriously to the next elections, which we think are going to be in a few months, we don't know yet exactly when, but, if God wills, before the end of 2013.



The third thing that we are trying to deal with is the lack of security. We are trying to put pressure over the government to make sure, as it is very important now, to get back to security in the streets very quickly.



So three issues: daily needs of the people, elections and security...



Why did I mention people's need at first? I think that Egyptians themselves are the top issue: they don't care about different demonstration, they don't care about the struggles in the streets between politicians.



They care about what they need and what they want. That is why we believe that people's need is our first priority, we have to deal with it immediately.


Secondly elections, then security. Or, maybe, security with elections, but to reach the stability of security we should have elections first and a parliament that really represents all the people.



The riots of Port Said are only one example of the tensions and the kind of disorders present in the country, that seems to have reached a too high level for the population to be tolerated. Who is the responsible for this situation? Is there a political problem? And what is the political solution in this case, in your opinion?



The main reason for that is, as I told you, that the counter-revolution has been very active over the last months. They are now seeking a new birth. Second of all, a transitional period makes the country weak. It is natural and normal that things are not stable. I agree that there is a political problem there, it was there even before the revolution. But after the revolution people was seeking security so quickly. The political problem comes from the fact that sometimes you can find parts, I am not saying the whole, but parts of the opposition which decides to cooperate. All the time they are trying to stop the recent evolution, to create instability and to prevent the current government from building Egypt.



At the same time opposition is trying to give an excuse for that, as they failed in having the trust of people in the elections that took place.



But I think that now in Port Said is going to be more stable. This is a fact. People in Port Said are seeking their own rights. They were very sad because of the death of lots of people in the streets and some of them in front of the polling stations. It is reasonable that they got angry, but that doesn't mean that it will last for a long time.



Let me tell you something. If you are going to make a comparison between the recent facts in Egypt and the last years, you will see that then was more problematic than now. Chaos was more vivid then. Kind of demonstrations were more than that and the percentage of people in the street were more than it is now. This year, it is still there but it is not the same. People has started to understand that it is not time to stop working and bringing Egypt up to a stable situation.



President Morsi has often been criticized for his position considered to be against the freedom of expression, while, in his opinion, journalists do not write the truth about the movement. What is your answer?



I will answer by evidences. As you remember, a journalist was put in jail because he said some lies against the president. The president, he stated a law to stop that kind of action against journalists. This is the first evidence that makes sure that the president is not against the freedom of expression.



The second evidence is that the presidential institution itself called for a punishment for those who try to spread rumors and lies in different media. But, the president withdrew this kind of action and said that he didn't agree with that. He said that everyone is free to criticize and to recognize by himself wether these lies and these rumors are true or not.



From my point of view, however, there is a great difference between freedom of expression and lying, spreading rumors to mine Egypt stability. That is something that cannot be accepted by normal people, it was not acceptable that the president was insulted every now and then, because this is against Egypt, not just against the president of our country. Though, the president made the choice not to punish anyone. We did not agree, but he decided so. I personally asked the president, when I was called as part of a commission on women rights, to take action against those rumors and lies that are making people so angry, he told me: "I can't do that". As an Egyptian, not as a politician, I was so angry, but he said he would not be angry at anyone, as that is not the proper attitude of an Egyptian president after the revolution.



How and why did you decide to join the Muslim Brotherhood? What is your role in the party?



I decided to join the Muslim Brotherhood because my family where, and still are, members. It happened when I was in my first year at college, in 1994. I found I wanted to be more positive, both in my religion situation, and in my understanding of Islam, and I believed that the Muslim Brotherhood has a moderate understanding of Islam and you can live religion in a moderate way, being more active, more positive. Secondly, they also were the biggest opposition movement against Mubarak's regime, which I believed was a corrupted one.



Therefore, I decided to join in. They were peacefully opposing to the system. I am a co-founder of Freedom and Justice Party and I am member and co-founder of the Foreign Relations Committee. Besides I was the only representative of the party at the European parliament.



You also have a family, a very busy life!



Yes,I have two twins and my husband is also a member of the movement, we both are political activists, but I have a higher role in the party, I have more responsibility than he has. I am his boss, actually.



Do your children know the Qur'an by heart?



Not yet, they are too young. I care about teaching them to have good ethics, to be good persons and to succeed in any field they will be in. Maybe in the future they will be activists and maybe in their schools also.