On August 13, 2011, the Egyptian daily Roz Al-Yousef published an interview with Sheikh 'Adel Shehato, a senior official in Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), who, on March 23, 2011, was freed from prison in the wake of the Egyptian revolution. He was imprisoned in 1991 upon returning from a three-year sojourn in Afghanistan.
In the interview, Shehato expressed complete opposition to democracy "because it is not the faith of the Muslims, but the faith of the Jews and Christians." He said that although the youth of the Arab revolutions have not declared the implementation of shari'a as one of their goals, the mujahideen nonetheless identify with their aspiration to overthrow the Arab rulers, whom they had always considered "infidels who must be killed because they do not rule according to the shari'a." He added, however, that "once Allah's law is applied, the role of the people will end and Allah will reign supreme." He went on to say that although he supports Al-Qaeda's ideology, shari'a law would not be enforced by violence but by da'wa (preaching), whereas violence would be used only against the infidel Arab rulers.
Shehato said that if the mujahideen came to power in Egypt, they would launch a campaign of Islamic conquests aimed at subjecting the entire world to Islamic rule. Muslim ambassadors would be appointed to each country, charged with calling upon them to join Islam willingly, but if the countries refused, war would be waged against them. He also described the nature of the Islamic state to be established in Egypt: there would be no trade or cultural ties with non-Muslims; tourist sites at the pyramids, the Sphinx, and Sharm Al-Sheikh would be shut down "because the tourists come [there] to drink alcohol and fornicate," and all tourists wishing to visit Egypt would be required to comply with the conditions and laws of Islam; all art, painting, singing, dancing, and sculpture would be forbidden, and all culture would be purely Islamic.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Sheikh 'Adel Shehato
The Term "Democracy" is Not in the Arab or Islamic Lexicon; Once Allah's Law Reigns Supreme, the People's Role will End
Q: "Do you support the uprising?"
Shehato: "...The [Egyptian] youth rose up for a certain ideal... They did not rise up in order to put the shari'a into practice, nor did they [complain] that Mubarak's regime did not rule in accordance with the shari'a... As Muslims, we must believe that the Koran is our constitution, and that it is [therefore] impossible for us to institute a Western democratic regime. I oppose democracy because it is not the faith of the Muslims, but the faith of the Jews and Christians. Simply put, democracy means the rule of the people itself over itself... According to Islam, it is forbidden for people to rule and to legislate laws, as Allah alone is ruler. Allah did not hand down the term [democracy] as a form of rule, and it is completely absent from the Arab and Islamic lexicon..."
Q: "If you do not believe in the rule of the people, why did you go out to Al-Tahrir Square with the slogan 'he People Wants to Implement the Shari'a?' Are you exploiting democracy in order to achieve what you want [only] to then abolish [democracy]?"
Shehato: "I am not exploiting democracy, since I have never joined and will never join politics or party activity... We believe that implementation of the shari'a [must be accomplished] far from the political game, though some [other] Islamic streams are willing to participate [in this game] in order to achieve the same goal [i.e., implementation of the shari'a]. We said that 'the people wants to implement the shari'a' because most of the people are Muslims, and also based on [our] reading of the situation on the ground. [At the same time,] we did not make demands for the people's sake in the people's name, but demanded the rule of Allah. And once Allah's law is instated, the role of the people will end and Allah will reign supreme."
Q: "How do you reconcile your opposition to the will of the people with the notion of shura [consultation] in Islam?"
Shehato: "'Shura' in Islam means that alongside the Muslim ruler, there is a steering council comprising the finest of the senior Muslim clerics, to be selected on the basis of their piety and political leadership [abilities]. But there is no consultation with commoners, such as workers and fallahin, nor is there consultation over issues that contravene the shari'a."
"The Christian is Free to Worship His God in His Church, but if the Christians Make Problems for the Muslims, I Will Exterminate Them"
Q: "What solution is the EIJ suggesting [today], after the revolution?"
Shehato: "...We still espouse the old jihadi ideology that is today the ideology of Sheikh Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the late Sheikh Osama bin Laden, and Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi... If the revolution was meant to overthrow the tyrant Mubarak, then we have always said that all the Arab rulers, without exception, are infidels who must be killed because they do not rule according to the shari'a. They are apostate infidels, as opposed to infidels like the Jews and Christians, and anyone who doubts that they are infidels is an infidel [himself]."
Q: "But we Egyptians have never regarded the Christians as infidels. [In fact,] many of us have Christian friends even closer than our Muslim friends."
Shehato: "As a Muslim, I must support the Muslim and oppose the Christian. If there is a Christian who does me no harm, I will maintain limited contact with him. Islam [discusses] certain degrees of contact with the Christian, namely: keeping promises [that were made him], dealing honestly with him, treating him kindly, and befriending him. The first three are allowed, but the fourth [i.e., befriending the Christian] is deemed dangerous, for it contravenes the verse that says, 'O you who believe! Do not take my enemy and your enemy for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth' [Koran 60:1]. It is inconceivable that they should serve in judiciary or executive posts, for instance in the army or the police."
Q: "Are you against blowing up churches?"
Shehato: "Yes and no. The Christian is free to worship his god in his church, but if the Christians make problems for the Muslims, I will exterminate them. I am guided by the shari'a, and it stipulates that they must pay the jizya tax while in a state of humiliation..."
Q: "These positions of yours frighten us, as Egyptians."
Shehato: "I will not act [in ways] that contradict my faith just in order to please the people... We say to the Christians, convert to Islam or pay the jizya, otherwise we will fight you. The shari'a is not based on [human] logic but on divine law. That is why we oppose universal, manmade constitutions."
If the Muslims Rise to Power in Egypt, They Will Form Muslim Battalions to Enforce the Shari'a Worldwide
Q: "If you rise to power in Egypt, will you launch a campaign of Islamic conquest?"
Shehato: "Of course we will launch a campaign of Islamic conquest, throughout the world. As soon as the Muslims and Islam control Egypt and implement the shari'a [there], we will turn to the neighboring regions, [such as] Libya [to the west] and Sudan to the south. All the Muslims in the world who wish to see the shari'a implemented worldwide will join the Egyptian army in order to form Islamic battalions, whose task will be to bring about the victory of [our] faith. We hope that, with Allah's help, Egypt will be the spark [that sets off this process]..."
Q: "You said that you endorse the ideology of Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Does this mean that your way of implementing shari'a in Egypt will be through violence and war, like their [way]?"
Shehato: "No, we will implement the shari'a through da'wa [preaching], while violence will be directed only at the infidel Arab rulers. In their case, there is no choice but to use force, though the shari'a does not call it 'violence' but 'jihad for the sake of Allah.' There is no other way... because they have power and weapons..."
Q: "How will the foreign ministry [operate] in an Islamic state?"
Shehato: "There are Muslims and there are infidels. We will have ambassadors in every country. We want to call all other countries to join Islam, and that will be the task of the ambassadors. If [the countries] refuse, there will be war. We will not tolerate mutual trade and cultural ties with non-Muslims."
"In the [Islamic] State, There will Be Only Islamic Culture"
Q: "If you rise to power, what will be your approach to tourism?"
Shehato: "There will be tourism for purposes of [medical] treatment, but the tourism sites of the pyramids, the Sphinx, and Sharm Al-Sheikh will be shut down, because my task [as a ruler] is to get people to serve Allah rather than [other] people [i.e., tourists]. No proud Muslim will ever be willing to live off tourism profits, because the tourists come [to Egypt] to drink alcohol and fornicate. [If they] want to come, they must comply with the conditions and laws of Islam. We will explain to them that, according to the shari'a, the pyramids are [the remains of] a pagan and polytheistic age."
Q: "What will be the state of art and literature in such a state?"Shehato
: "In Islam, there is no such thing as art. Painting, singing, and dancing are forbidden. Therefore, in the [Islamic] state there will be nothing but Islamic culture, for I cannot teach [people] the infidel culture. As for literature, such as [the works] of Naguib Mahfouz, it is forbidden. Naguib Mahfouz was a criminal who stimulated [people's] desires and struck a severe blow to modesty. We will return to the decent culture of the Muslims and the Muslim forefathers, and to Islamic history."
 Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), August 13, 2011.