This morning, I interviewed recently liberated Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour over the phone. (Special thanks to his son, Shadi, for translating.)
Why do you believe that you were released from prison in February?
Firstly, there were only four months left until I would be released. And they wanted to make a better appearance for themselves to the American government, particularly since there were only four months left. The Mubarak regime wanted to look more democratic to the American government.
While you were in prison, Moussa Moustafa Moussa split from your party, el-Ghad, and formed his own faction under the same name, which was officially recognized by the Egyptian government. How do you intend to deal with this political challenge?
Two weeks before I was released, the court made a decision that Moussa would be completely disregarded as leader of the party. And now we never see his face at all. He is not anywhere and nobody has heard from him since. He’s a government official so nobody cares about him anymore.
But Mr. Moussa claims to still control the official Ghad party.
The court decision was official and was internationally known. However, the government is not actually dealing with this issue. Basically, the government does not recognize the decision. But Moussa is not a leader, and the government is just corrupt.
What kinds of challenges do you anticipate in rebuilding your party in preparation for the next elections?
Just yesterday some part of the Egyptian government let out the decision that I would be banned from resuming my legal career. This is an attempt to stop me from opposing the government. This is an attempt to choke my action, as far as the law goes.
We [the Ghad party] met about this last night. We’re going to build el-Ghad and push to get my rights back to be in politics. I am also getting ready for the next presidential elections in 2011.
AKI is reporting that your wife, Gamila Ismail, will run for president against President Hosni Mubarak. Do you have any comment on this?
That’s completely insane. It’s not true.
The opposition in Egypt is very fractionalized. Do you anticipate working with other opposition groups to challenge President Mubarak in the next elections?
We sometimes have meetings with these other groups, but we will not work with the Wafd party, which is not really an opposition party anymore. There is nothing official with these other parties, and there is no official link with them.
Will you be working with Kefaya (i.e., the Egyptian Movement for Change)?
I am one of the main founders of Kefaya.
In recent months, Islamists – such as the Islamic Labor Party’s Magdy Qorqor – have joined Kefaya’s leadership. Has this affected Kefaya’s platform? Do you think that this will affect the opposition’s credibility internationally?
It did not make much of a difference. It made a bit of a difference, because there are now some extremists in Kefaya, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Since we’re all an opposition, it doesn’t matter whether Magdy is more extreme. Magdy is not a big part in Kefaya.
Since Kefaya has been created, it’s been group of people from every religion and ideology. Its major objective is to get Mubarak out of power. There are some extreme Muslims and Christians – it’s a group of everyone. It should not look bad to any foreign country.
From 2006-2007, Kefaya’s major goal was collecting one-million signatures in support for ending Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Will Kefaya continue pushing this as a key part of its platform?
This is not a part of Kefaya’s agenda anymore. El-Ghad supports every treaty made by Egypt before and will keep it going. We want to ensure peace with every country in the world.
Final question: do you intend to work with the Facebook-based April 6th movement?
Eighty-percent of the people in this movement are from el-Ghad, which means that I’m with them. We will always be with them. We will have something up on the Internet. On April 6th, 2010, el-Ghad will have a strike against the government if it doesn’t fulfill ten points from el-Ghad. We’ve posted these on my Facebook profile.