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Results of Egyptian Presidential Election

Aired June 25, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to our program from Cairo. This is the day after the historic Egyptian presidential election. For the first time, a civilian has been elected freely and fairly.

And standing over the Nile, where in the heat of the celebrations, we saw boats and even WaveRunners draped with the Egyptian flag. And in front of me, Tahrir Square, where I just spied above it a kite, again, in the shape and form of the Egyptian flag.

Now for decades, the emblem of Egypt has been the struggle between the strongmen and the Islamists. And up until now, it has always been the secular strongmen who have held power.

Not any longer. For the first time, an Islamist has been elected. He is the first Islamist head of state in the Arab world.

President-elect Mohammed Morsi's first speech was massively and extensively inclusive. He rhetorically wrapped his arms around every segment of Egyptian population, from the farmers to the teachers, to the workers, to the women, to the Christians and everybody.

He said he wanted to be the president of all Egyptians, and he said he was looking for a modern constitutional and democratic Egypt.

But what about those fears that some minorities have? Christians, for instance; women, for instance? I asked him in an interview I conducted just before the election.


AMANPOUR: Do you think that a woman should run for president in Egypt?

MOHAMMED MORSI, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF EGYPT: Yes, remember you are a woman.

AMANPOUR: Exactly.

MORSI: I respect you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. And all the Egyptian women are hoping that they will be respected and their rights will be guaranteed. So I guess now that I have you here, I just want you to say it, loud and clear.

MORSI: Yes, loud and clearly, all Egyptian womans (sic) have the same rights like the men. They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife and my mother. They are all Egyptians. There is no differences whatsoever among the people in Egypt, the people of Egypt, there is none anything like believe or the sex or whatever you call, or you name.


AMANPOUR: So those are the words everybody wants to hear. But what are the real powers of the new president, because of course, SCAF, that Orwellian acronym for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is still firmly in control.

And what about the Muslim Brotherhood? What is this group? Let's look at a little bit of its history.


AMANPOUR: The Brotherhood was created in Egypt in the 1920s, its founder, Hassan al--Banna, preached that the group needed to reclaim Islam from Western influences. The original Brotherhood slogan, "Islam is the solution."

Today the group has millions of followers from every city and village in Egypt. Its influence is undeniable and enormous. It's spawned dozens of offshoots around the Arab world, some of them militant, others violent, including Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Egyptian Islamic Jihad was founded by Ayman al--Zawahiri, who found the Muslim Brotherhood too moderate.

He eventually joined forces with Osama bin Laden to build Al Qaeda.

The Brotherhood has had a violent history. Back in 1948, the group assassinated Egypt's prime minister. But in the 1980s, it disavowed violence and attempted to join the mainstream political process. But it was banned by the Mubarak regime. And that led to 2005, when the Brotherhood won 20 percent of the seats in Egypt's parliamentary election, running as independents.

Mubarak cracked down on the group, jailed hundreds of members, including Mohammed Morsi.


AMANPOUR: And now the huge and tough question: how does Egypt transition from decades, no, thousands of years of authorization rule to democratic governance? To ask some of those questions and to hear the answers, I have as my guest, Ahmed Deif. He is the policy adviser to President-Elect Mohammed Morsi, and was active during the campaign.

Thank you for joining me.


AMANPOUR: So on this amazing day, of course, everybody around the world is congratulating Egypt's democracy and also President-Elect Morsi. But how is he really going to rule, given the reality of the military that is in full control now?

DEIF: Yes, the joy that we are all celebrating after yesterday's results, definitely won't let us forget that we are not over yet with our revolution. And even Mr. President-Elect Morsi said yesterday in his speech that the revolution is still on. The steep pressure, as you can see in Tahrir Square, was still protesting and demonstrating and also the political pressure with the new President-Elect Morsi.

AMANPOUR: So but there's already an inbuilt adversarial role.

DEIF: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And people are wondering is this going to work itself out in the back room of politics? Or is it going to work itself out with potential unrest on the street?

DEIF: Actually, it will be both. So definitely keep the people to put political pressure on the SCAF in the negotiating rooms. They need to be backed with people on the street and with people that really showed solidarity without any ideological actually aspiration.

And this what we managed to have, in the last 3--4 days. Now President-Elect Morsi is not only backed by people with an Islamic tendency or ideology, but he's now backed with all the people of the revolution. And this definitely has dramatic, positive card (ph) that he can say with legitimate we discussed (ph).

AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about that. You say he's backed by everybody. As you know, the division in the -- in this country is quite stark.

DEIF: Yes.

AMANPOUR: More than half the people voted for Mr. Morsi, but a very small -- half the people also voted for his opponent, Mr. Shafiq.

DEIF: Yes.

AMANPOUR: You know, women are worried; Christians are worried. What are the first steps that he needs to take to allay those fears? Will they be in his government?

DEIF: Yes. A good question, actually, and as you mentioned at the beginning of your report, that the strategy of President-Elect Morsi is inclusiveness, inclusiveness, inclusiveness. I know that to walk the talk, as we say, that one of the early first decisions would be appointing different vice presidents.

One of them would be a woman for the first time in Egyptian history, not just the modern history but in all Egyptian history, for a woman to take that position. Also he's decided on appointing a Christian vice president.

And it's not just that the vice presidents will represent a certain gender or sect, but the vice presidents who is powerful and empowered and will be taking care of critical files (ph) within the presidential cabinet.

AMANPOUR: So more than just cosmetic?

DEIF: That would be, yes. And he is very determined about that, I can tell you that.

AMANPOUR: And what about -- already there's an issue potentially. He wants to be sworn in inside the parliament, which has been dissolved.

DEIF: Yes.

AMANPOUR: The SCAF want him to be sworn in at the constitutional court.

DEIF: Yes.

AMANPOUR: How is that going to be resolved?

DEIF: Well, as I said, that it's early now to say how it will end up. But definitely it's a revolutionary request, the streets' request for President-Elect Morsi to give the oath in front of the -- of their elected parliament that we all feel it's a very legitimate parliament and it's for the right of the SCAF.

All the courts just by one decision to dissolve it. And thus President-Elect Morsi will push forward in true legal channels to revisit that decision. And we hope that we will actually reach a compromise on that.

AMANPOUR: How will President-Elect Morsi govern when there is this, you know, 25 percent power in the hands of the fundamentalist Salafists, who maybe don't have the same view that he does on women and Christians and other areas?

DEIF: I think the challenge of inclusiveness and balancing between the different goals from rightist, leftist, to liberals, to all these different ideological orientations, is a big challenge. And that's why President Morsi's decision is that it should be also a collective decision, not only his decision.

He will have a well-comprehensive balanced consultation board that will -- that reflects the different goals and ideologies of the Egyptians street. And the decisions will be in consultation with them so that everybody will see that it's not only President Morsi's decision, but it's the whole people's decision.

And I think President-Elect Morsi is capable enough of keeping that balance and making a good outreach, inclusive outreach to the different ideological sects and (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: So this, in other words, is not going to be the Islamic Republic of Egypt. Or is it?

DEIF: Definitely it's not. We never called for an Islamic Republic in Egypt. President-Elect Morsi was very clear on that when he said that we are calling on a constitutional civil modern state that respects and enjoys its culture and its principles and its different religions, not just Islamist, Christianity.

And he also will push forward in actually putting this through a very technical progressive government that will put as a priority the development in Egypt, building a new economy for Egypt rather than just being into the corner of these ideological (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: Well, that brings me to what is his first priority? And you've just pretty much said it: it's the economy.

DEIF: Yes.

AMANPOUR: How does he allay the fears of Egyptian businessmen, tourists who want to come back, which, as you know, is the backbone of the Egyptian economy? How will he get that economy moving again?

DEIF: Comes the day with the economy moving on, is the social rest and the issue of security, there which also is on the top of President- Elect Morsi's list. And he's working hard with that, reforming the police, reforming different security entities in Egypt.

And also he has been clear, speaking to a different set of business people, that Egypt has a huge potential for investment, with fair and transparent meritocracy-based system.

Egypt's economy will boom quickly in a very near future. And thus as much as people need these investments is the people have much of -- we also need Egypt as a booming economy, as an economy that will be based on a very solid foundation. And that's a very clear program for that to come.

AMANPOUR: And the tourists who come to the beaches for, you know, a little bit of booze, a little bit of bikini?

DEIF: And that will become better. And we're very clear that these programs, that if we are enjoying 12 million tourists a year, we are aiming for 24 million tourists a year.

And this definitely won't come by actually distorting what we have, but actually capitalizing on what we have, a pleasing amount of investment in tourist economy and different things that will help with infrastructure of tourism in Egypt.

AMANPOUR: Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel. Can you guarantee that this peace treaty will be maintained?

DEIF: I can guarantee this by echoing what the President-Elect Morsi said before, that we respect the treaty that the previous regimes and governments have signed with all countries, including Israel, as long as they are mutually respected, as long as they are on the basis of fairness and justice, and definitely we understand that a peaceful Middle East is good for Egypt and for everyone.

And we are looking forward to that, and as (inaudible) Morsi said, that we are the first people to respect these treaties. And we are calling upon allies and friends like the United States to help us make sure that these treaties are fairly and mutually respected.

AMANPOUR: Ahmed Deif, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

DEIF: My pleasure. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And when we return, more on Egypt's historic elections with a journalist who refused to play ball with the previous regime. I'll ask Shahira Amin if she sees a brave new world or merely the lesser of two evils.

But first, take a look at this new website. It's called the Morsi Meter; a nonprofit group created it to monitor how well Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi, keeps his promises in his first 100 days in office. We've posted a link at We'll be right back.



AMANPOUR: And welcome back to the program from Cairo, where night falls very rapidly here.

Next on our agenda, we are going to talk to a young woman, Shahira Amin, who caused quite a wave when she resigned her position as an anchor during the uprising.

Shahira, thank you so much indeed for joining me. We want to talk to you as a prominent woman in this revolution, to see what you think, now that the Islamist candidate has won.

Is that a worry for women like you?

SHAHIRA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I see it as a victory for the revolution, Christiane. I invalidated my vote because I didn't think that either of the candidates really stood for our revolution, you know, for the --

AMANPOUR: But then how can this be a victory?

AMIN: Because it's a change. We wanted a secular civil state. Of course, Mr. Shafiq is a military man. He's a former Air Force commander, the last prime minister under Mubarak. So it would have been an extension of the military dictatorship, an extension of the corrupt regime.

Mr. Morsi is not a secularist. He's a conservative Islamist. But yet, he is our first civil president, and that is what makes all the difference.

AMANPOUR: But what happens if suddenly you, Shahira, are forced to wear the veil, for want of another example?

AMIN: I (inaudible) that he's not going to ask Egyptian women to wear the headscarf. He's already allayed our fears by saying that he will be the ruler of all Egyptians, Christians and Muslims, that he will protect the rights of minorities, including the rights of women. And I believe that this is what he will do.

AMANPOUR: It's quite encouraging to hear the policy director, Ahmed Deif, just tell me that one of his first actions is going to be to name vice presidents, which will include a woman and a Christian, in other words, minorities. That gives you encouragement?

AMIN: Very much so. And he said that he will no longer be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has reformed, Christiane. It's become more moderate, unlike the ultra--conservative Salafis. We have to draw the line and make that distinction.

And I am really not concerned, but from today, I join the opposition camp. And I tell Mr. Morsi we will have our eyes on you. We'll be watching you closely and we'll hold you to account.

AMANPOUR: Which opposition?

AMIN: I want him to keep his promises. So I will be, you know, looking out and making sure that he does fulfill these pledges.

AMANPOUR: Well, to that end, then, are you concerned about the constitutional committee? We know it's all been disbanded; we don't know how it's going to be restood (sic) up. But certainly there was not that many women on the original constitutional committee, and that was pretty much dominated by the Islamists in parliament.

AMIN: Absolutely. That was very disappointing indeed to see how women have been sidelined and marginalized since the revolution.

And my biggest concern, Christiane, is the fact that SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, wants to continue to stay in control, pulling the strings from behind. Had we had Shafiq, you know, we would have had the men in uniform up front.

We still have the men in uniform, but pulling the strings, they want veto power over the drafting of the new constitution. They've imposed martial law. They guaranteed, you know, sweeping legislative and budgetary powers to shield them through their budgets from scrutiny and not --

AMANPOUR: So how do you think the chess game now, the political chess game is going to play out between SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood?

AMIN: It's going to be a tug-of-war with the people of Egypt in the middle. And I just hope that the people of Egypt will stand together, close their ranks and stand behind Mr. Morsi, because he does need that support. And he is our hope for change.

AMANPOUR: And as Ahmed Deif said, and as Mr. Morsi has said, to certainly his supporters, the revolution isn't over. It continues. How do you think -- you know this place so well. How do you think the military is going to respond to a continued sit-in in Tahrir Square, for instance?

AMIN: They've already made clear that they're going to take firm action with the protesters in Tahrir. But on the other hand, I don't blame the activists in Tahrir. They are there for a very good cause. We have a president who has very limited powers. SCAF has made sure of that. And they want to stay there until they make sure that Mr. Morsi does have, you know, some power to enforce change.

AMANPOUR: Shahira, are you concerned by some of the stories we hear about wanting to reduce the young girls' marriage age, wanting to decriminalize female genital mutilation?

AMIN: Over the last year and a half, Christiane, parliament, the Islamist-dominated parliament, performed rather poorly and we did hear talk about bringing down the marriage age for girls or for taking away the right of women to divorce. Now these are gains that we've made that we hope to build on.

There are lots of strong women out there willing to fight the fight, you know, and not allow these gains to be taken away. And Mr. Morsi, you know, I worry because during his campaign, he said the Quran is my constitution. And this worries me, because what I'd like him to do is divorce religion from politics. We can only move forward when, you know, religion is religion and politics is politics.

AMANPOUR: And he has, of course, resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood, probably as some kind of gesture in that regard. I wonder what you think when we look over the Nile and all the glittering lights.

AMIN: Well, I see these sailboats with their flickering lights and I hear the music and the belly dancing. I think we're all right, and I'm looking forward to a bright future and lots of good things happening.

AMANPOUR: Shahira Amin, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

AMIN: Thank you, too, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And more on our historic coverage of this election from Cairo when we return. But first, take a look at these pictures, from a vilified regime, ousted by a popular uprising, to a democratically elected president. How things have changed down there in Tahrir Square in the last 18 months. We'll be right back.



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, some reflections from Ben Wedeman, my colleague who's been Cairo bureau chief for the last 11 years and has spent so long covering this region.

Ben, we've seen everything. You've seen everything here. We've talked about politics and strategy and the global significance. What about the people has really impressed you? What have you noticed in terms of changes?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, the Egyptians are an incredibly sort of kind and generous and humorous people. They can laugh at anything. And you know, what we've seen is a real difficult period over the last 16 months since the beginning of the revolution and last -- the beginning of last year.

They have gone through an incredible change. They've seen Hosni Mubarak, a man many of them had known as their president all their life, overthrown. They've seen sort of violence in the streets. They've seen some incredibly exciting days when elections happened and elections went off peacefully.

But they've managed to maintain their sense of humor throughout all of it. And, in fact, just this morning, I was reflecting on the fact that Mohammed Morsi, the president-elect, is now going to be the object of Egypt's greatest weapon, which is its humor.

And he's going to have to watch out because the jokes are going to be on him now. And he's going to have to perform. He's going to have to show that, as president, he can take the humor and maybe start to solve the problems of this country. And --

AMANPOUR: It's certainly a tough challenge ahead. And I was down in Tahrir earlier, and some of the things that I hear resonate a lot.

People are constantly talking about dignity and justice. I get the feeling that they're liberated from feeling as if they were just always second-class citizens and somebody else's puppet, whether their own autocrats or whether the United States or whatever -- this word dignity keeps coming up over and over again.

WEDEMAN: Because this is a very -- in the past, hierarchical society where there's that top sliver that lives in incredible luxury and wealth. And the rest of Egyptians really have to get by on very little. Forty percent of the population lives on $2 a day. They have to work, day in and day out, just to survive.

And so for them, there's a certain justice in this situation where Hosni Mubarak, the president for 30 years, the man they called The Pharaoh, is now in a prisoner's outfit, right at the moment in a military hospital, but he's an inmate in Tora Prison, sort of an infamous prison where you've reached rock bottom when you've arrived there.

So for them, the feeling that their dignity is slowly beginning to crawl its way back into the sunlight.

AMANPOUR: And that reversal of fortune, as we've been reflecting, is really dramatic to see that Mohammed Morsi, who was a prisoner, is now president.

This is the land of the pyramids. This is the land of such great ancient culture and civilization. It's such a Herculean task just to get the economy back on track, just to get people educated, to get institutions up and running again. That's going to be really tough. Do the Egyptian people and their leaders have it in them?

WEDEMAN: I don't think there's any question that they do. They have the energy, the determination, the patience, the humor -- it's all there.

But it will be a huge task. And I mean, just look at the education system. At the moment, poorly funded. And what's interesting, when you have elections here, the votes -- voting takes place in schools. And you get to go all around Cairo, all around the country, and you see what bad shape the schools are in.

But what is the concern of your average Egyptian mother and father? They want their children to get a good education, to advance in life. And so, the will is there among ordinary people to see an effort going into improving these.

The question is, you know, you need an economy that is functioning. And for the last 16 months, the economy has been in steady decline. Today, we saw the stock market go up to more than seven -- up by more than 7 percent. A sign that --


WEDEMAN: -- there's hope. But you know, the problem is the situation is so uncertain. Today is great. Next week, who knows?

AMANPOUR: And you mention education and people wanting a better life. Let's not forget that that really is what spurred all these revolutions, starting with the man who set himself on fire in Tunisia.

Ben, thank you very much indeed.

WEDEMAN: A pleasure, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Thank you for everything. And thank you all for watching from Cairo. You can always keep following us at, where we post all of your e-mails. We read all the e-mails. And of course, we do post our episodes online everyday.

Thanks for watching. Goodbye from Cairo.