'People think they made a big mistake, electing Morsi...they hate the Brotherhood'

Anwar Sadat, nephew of the assassinated president, talks to Robert Fisk about a ‘savage’ Egypt – and why it needs help

It’s not every day you get to ask Anwar Sadat about the fall of Mohamed Morsi.

But the nephew of the Egyptian president assassinated by Islamists in 1981 – who does, by the way, look rather like his late uncle as well as sharing his name – is an eloquent, tolerant member of the old Egyptian parliament, a 52-year-old head of an NGO who was just leaving his Heliopolis office on grim business: to pay his condolences to the families of 22 of the 26 police cadets murdered in Sinai this week. All 22 were his constituents.

But, Anwar Sadat says, Morsi had to go. Had he remained in power for another year, “we would have had another hundred years of the Brotherhood in power”. Yet the problem now, he says, is that Egypt needs a political solution. “The security solution is only something temporary. The people are just saying ‘these are terrorists’ about the Brotherhood and are putting pressure on the government. The media are all in one direction and this does not help. This makes life difficult for people who want to come up with compromise and flexibility. In Egypt, we have to learn to live together. People are going crazy about these people in the Brotherhood….”

And then Anwar Sadat, the president of the tiny Reform and Development Party – right-of-centre, if you can use that expression in Egyptian politics – says something very unexpected. “Real democracy in this part of the world doesn’t really fit. We need awareness, education, to make people understand all our values. We Egyptians talk of all this civilisation we have had for 7,000 years. But we have buried all that our fathers did. We cannot even come to an understanding of what we really want.”

But there are other unexpected moments. It was the first time I had heard, for example, that the uncle of General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi – the man who chucked Morsi and the Brotherhood from power last month – was himself in the Brotherhood in the 1950s and spent time in Nasser’s jails. Indeed, that same uncle was a close colleague of Mohamed Badie, the world leader of the Brotherhood whom General Sisi has just locked up.

“Sisi was willing to go on if the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies would show compromise. You know, he was under severe public pressure. Sisi was never close to the Brotherhood but he is conservative, like most officers. They pray. This is the moderate Islam that we all follow. But we have to accept that these people [the Brotherhood] are a big segment of society. This is a reality. We must show compromise. But we were all lucky that the army managed to isolate Suez and Sinai – otherwise all those terrorists there would have come to Cairo and there would have been much more blood.”

Anwar Sadat was in his early twenties and on the first day of his honeymoon when his uncle was shot by Lieutenant Khaled al-Islambouly.

Egyptian vice President, General Hosni Mubarak, left, and late President Anwar Sadat Egyptian vice President, General Hosni Mubarak, left, and late President Anwar Sadat(AFP/Getty)
“I was on the plane going to Germany and I checked into our hotel in Munich and the manager came to see me – he was almost in tears and said he had “terrible news” – and then the embassy called and I was back in Cairo by the evening. The Brotherhood respected President Sadat. The Brotherhood gave our family a medal only two months ago. They believed he was not Nasser and not Mubarak, that there was no torture then and that President Sadat had a certain tolerance and gave them a chance to reactivate their activities – as long as they followed the rules. At that time, the leftists and the Nasserists were very much against the peace treaty with Israel.”

Over the past two and a half years, Anwar Sadat got to know Morsi. “He is a good-hearted man – not a genius, but a good man. But it was the [Brotherhood] group who were controlling the whole show. He was representing them in the presidency, not all Egyptians. The problem was that they were a big failure, they lacked experience of how to deal with the opposition, they excluded the youngsters of the 2011 revolution.”

And Hosni Mubarak, the 85-year-old president deposed 30 months before Morsi’s overthrow? Should he be freed? Anwar Sadat will abide by the ruling of the judiciary. “Mubarak, in his first 10 years, was trying hard and he was very sincere – but later on, when his sons and wife became part of his political life, he started to give up a lot of his responsibilities and leave them to his wife and sons. There were conflicts of interest and businessmen were around his son Gamal. Mubarak himself was not very fond of the idea of having his son replace him. It was Gamal’s friends and business people who kept saying ‘you are the best’, ‘you are the next man’. Mubarak knew the military would fight back against this. Tantawi [who ultimately brought Mubarak down] was tired of all these business transactions.”

Mubarak was “a human, a fighter, he was dealing with peace, with stability, but he didn’t realise that things had changed, that his government should open up and have flexibility. In this way Mubarak and Morsi made the same mistake. But one more year and we would never have had a chance to get rid of Morsi and we would have had them for the next hundred years. Political Islam – I can’t see it would work again unless the strategy changed.

“You have to understand that the war here is not between the people and the army or the people and the police. It is with the people. People hate the Brotherhood nowadays – they think they made a big mistake by electing Morsi. Mubarak was in power for 30 years. The people were against him but he had the deep state and the institutions on his side. Morsi had the people against him and the deep state and the institutions against him.

“As for us Egyptians, from our friends abroad we need solutions that will help us, not threats. And we as a society have to look into what happened to us. We became very savage, even to our friends.”

Morsi rallies stay low-key

Supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took to the streets of Cairo today, holding scattered rallies in a test of whether they can keep up the pressure on the government despite the arrest of much of their senior leadership.

Unlike the protests seen in recent weeks, Morsi supporters kept to smaller streets, avoiding major thoroughfares and squares where military and security forces were deployed in strength. The rallies came a day after 80 Muslim Brotherhood members, including senior leaders, were taken into custody.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'