June 18, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4791

Egyptian Commentators In Heated Debate About Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi's Proposal For A United States of Arabs With Jerusalem As Its Capital

June 18, 2012
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 4791

Following are excerpts from reactions by various Egyptian commentators to statements made by Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi on May 1, 2012 and translated by MEMRI TV, in which he called for martyrs to restore Jerusalem to Arab rule, and make it the capital city of an Arab union of countries. The reactions were aired on Rotana TV on June 10 and 11, 2012.

For the original statements, translated by MEMRI TV, see

Excerpts From Original Footage

Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi: "Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: 'Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.'"

Crowds: "Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem."

Safwat Higazi: "The United States of the Arabs will be restored by this man [Muhammad Mursi] and his supporters. The capital of the Caliphate – the capital of the United States of the Arabs – will be Jerusalem, Allah willing."

Reactions to Higazi's Statements

Farid Zahran, member of the Egyptian Democratic Party: "That man is not talking about Egypt. We are Egyptian citizens, with a long history on a certain territory. We are Muslims and Christians, Bedouin and Nubians. Egypt has a certain population fabric, and we want our country to prosper. That man does not care about that. He's talking about a completely different plan. At the end of the day, his plan is for us to generate problems with Israel, to wage jihad, [to cry:] 'No voice is louder than the sound of battle,' and to lead the people with an iron fist, as was the case for many years.

"That is the bleak scenario that I am anticipating. We will make provocations that will lead to the country's destruction, and then we will cry: 'No voice is louder than the sound of battle.' That is the jihad he is talking about. There is no other jihad." […]

TV host Hala Sarhan: "When Dr. Safwat Higazi says these things in the presence of Dr. Mursi, does this mean that Dr. Mursi agrees with these statements, and that this is his elections platform and his plan for the future of Egypt? These are dangerous statements. We would like to know whether the candidate is responsible for the statements of his supporters." […]

Egyptian journalist Farida Al-Shubashi: "I would like to ask that man, who delivered a speech to millions of cheering supporters: Do you plan to march on Jerusalem with the weapons of the American masters, or what? It is a disgrace to lead the people so far astray.

"It was America and global imperialism that planted Israel here. How does Safwat Higazi plan to go and liberate Jerusalem? I'd like him to tell me how he plans to do it."

Egyptian lawyer Essam Al-Hafnawi: "Would you like me to answer that?"

Farida Al-Shubashi: "Go ahead."

Essam Al-Hafnawi: "Our Lord guides all creatures to Islam at the end of their days…"

Farida Al-Shubashi: "Pffft… What kind of answer is that? Don't answer me with illogical stuff."

Essam Al-Hafnawi: "The revolutions of the Arab Spring are being led by Islamic movements. Perhaps Higazi's goal is to unite all these countries… Gamal Abd Al-Nasser wanted the same thing…"

Farida Al-Shubashi: "That was something completely different…"

Essam Al-Hafnawi: "[Higazi] was talking about Muhammad Mursi's aspirations to become president not just of Egypt, but of all the Arab countries…"

Farida Al-Shubashi: "What Egypt?! He says there's no Egypt and no Cairo…"

Hala Sarhan: He said there would be no more Cairo…

Farida Al-Shubashi: "No Cairo. He decided that Jerusalem would be the capital." […]

Hala Sarhan: "[Higazi] said: 'millions of martyrs' and 'Let's march on Jerusalem.'"

Egyptian MP Sha'ban Abd Al-Alim: "These are merely emotional chants…"

Hala Sarhan: "The conscience of the masses is very important."

Sha'ban Abd Al-Alim: "He was expressing his own desire to commit martyrdom…"

Farida Al-Shubashi: "Let him go martyr himself."

Hala Sarhan: "He can martyr himself, but he shouldn't say this to the Egyptian people."

Sha'ban Abd Al-Alim: "Did he ask you to martyr yourself too?"

Hala Sarhan: "He talked about millions of martyrs."

Sha'ban Abd Al-Alim: "There can be millions without Farida. Don't worry."

Hala Sarhan: "My son might hear him and follow his lead."

Farida Al-Shubashi: "He said: 'We are all Hamas.' He might be Hamas, but I'm not. I don't think Hamas has fired a single bullet at Israel for years."

Sha'ban Abd Al-Alim: "They waged a war for many days…'

Farida Al-Shubashi: "Where is that war?"

Hala Sarhan: "Are we Hamas? He said we are Hamas." […]

Dr. Tharwat Al-Badawi, expert on constitutional law: "He said that Cairo would not be the capital, and I say the same."

Farida Al-Shubashi: "And I tell you that Cairo will be the capital."

Tharwat Al-Badawi: "No."

Farida Al-Shubashi: "Without Cairo, there will be nothing."

Tharwat Al-Badawi: "Let me repeat what Safwat Higazi said: Cairo won't be the capital. Jerusalem, for example, could be the capital."

Essam Al-Hafnawi: "Jerusalem is the promised land, people."

Farida Al-Shubashi: "You go to the promised land. I want my own country. I can't just forget about Cairo. […]

"I would like to declare that I reject those statements – from the hair on my head to the toes on my feet. […]

"We don't produce even this pen I'm holding. How do we expect to liberate Jerusalem? These are empty words. We should work hard and make progress, so we can be competitive in science, rather than talk nonsense. […]

Tharwat Al-Badawi: "Safwat Higazi was talking about uniting the entire Arab world… Let me finish… This is impossible…in the face of the fierce and barbaric campaign of the United States and the West in general, against Islam. He is calling to unite the Arabs, or even the Islamic world, in order to confront that fierce campaign. The U.S. army itself is planning how to conquer Al-Madina militarily."

Farida Al-Shubashi: "Well, my mind is limited. I can't figure out why the West would be afraid of me. Would I cut off its supply of cellphones, computers, cars, airplanes, or health?" […]

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