In an interview he gave on the tenth anniversary of Egypt's January 25, 2011 revolution, Dr. Hassan Nafie, a professor of political sciences at Cairo University, said that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a vital part of Egyptian society that must not be dismissed or ignored, and called on the secular and Islamic sectors in Egypt to dialogue and reach mutual understanding. His statements evoked a scathing response from liberal journalist Khaled Montasser, who wrote in his column in the Egyptian daily Al-Watan that the MB is a "virus" and a "malignant tumor" in Egyptian society that has no regard for the homeland and has spawned terrorists that sowed death and destruction in the name of religion.
Khaled Montasser (left) and Hassan Nafie (Sources: Raialyoum.com, almesrryoon.com)
Hassan Nafie: Political Islam Is Here To Stay; The MB Is A Legitimate Social Sector
In his January 25, 2021 interview with the London-based online daily Raialyoum.com, Dr. Hassan Nafie claimed that the only way to heal the deep rift between the religious and secular elements in Egyptian society is to create an atmosphere of dialogue between them. He said: "This schism is not something sudden or new, caused by the events of June 30 or July 3 in 2013, as some currents of the Islamic movement claim. This schism has ancient roots. It goes back to… the political vacuum that has existed in Egypt since the July 1952 revolution, which stifled political life [in the country] and the growth of civil society, thus deepening [divisions]… I think that the interim stage after the  revolution exposed the magnitude of the rift between the [religious and secular] streams and made it clearer. Sadly, the fractures soon became a wide abyss that gave rise to an incurable disease, especially after the events of June 30 or July 3 in 2013. The political arena once again shut the gates [to dissenting voices], especially after 2014, when all the icons of the revolution were jailed. After that there was no longer any opportunity for real dialogue between the sides involving an examination of everything that happened in the January 25,  revolution and the events that came in its wake, and there was no real attempt to diagnose the disease or cure it. All [the sides] are still entrenched in their positions and thrive on mutual finger-pointing."
Nafie added: "The only way to bridge the deep rift that has formed is through dialogue. Dialogue requires a specific [kind of] political climate, chiefly one characterized by a bit of freedom, especially freedom of opinion, assembly and political action. This kind of atmosphere is completely absent [in Egypt] today… The secularists must understand that political Islam is here to stay and that the MB is an authentic component of society that cannot be ignored or uprooted on the pretext that it is an extremist stream or that it is beyond reform, for uprooting it is not in any way possible…
"Looking for common ground with this stream should be the first step on the long journey [towards healing the rift]. It is necessary to define the common ground and agree on a timetable and on priorities, and that is possible. As for the Islamists, they too must understand that religion [belongs] to Allah and the homeland belongs to all, and that it is not their place to grant indulgences to whoever they please while denying them to others. They are entitled to promote the political or cultural program [they favor] and present it to people – but not to present it as dogma that must be followed or must be imposed on society by force, on the grounds that jihad for the sake of Allah is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim who can engage in it…
"In practice, the secularist's dispute with the Islamist is not over Islam and its values, but over the political organization that [the secularist] believes [the Islamist] is operating in. [MB founder] Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna did not mean to found a political party in the conventional sense, but rather an alternative society that he considered a society of believers, as opposed to the existing society, which was not. That is a very dangerous approach that leads to schism in societies, especially societies that include religious minorities. [Instead], the Islamists must act through parties that believe in the values of homeland, citizenship, human rights and national rights as a common denominator they share with the secularists…
"States of schism are temporary by nature. Sometimes they can persist, for subjective or objective reasons, but they are bound to end. A society cannot survive for long while [using] only half of its [human] capital and [human] energy and power. That is why I think change will surely come, sooner or later…"
Khaled Montasser: "The MB Is Not An Authentic Component But An Alien Corn, A Creeping Fungus, A Parasitic Virus And An Exhausting Tumor"
 This was a slogan of Egypt's liberal era in the early 20th century.
 Raialyoum.com, January 25, 2021.
 A saying attributed to MB ideologue Sayyid Qutb, reflecting his view of nationalism.
 The reference is to a statement made by Mahdi Akef, who was the head of the MB in 2004-2010, to the Egyptian paper Roz Al-Yousef. See Al-Watan (Egypt), September 22, 2017; alwatanvoice.com, April 12, 2006.
 In 2006 Mahdi 'Akef reportedly said that he preferred to see a Muslim man from Malaysia or Indonesia as the leader of Egypt rather than an Egyptian Christian or woman. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), April 15, 2014.
 In July 2013, amid the unrest in Egypt following the ouster of president Morsi, the U.S. Navy positioned several vessels off the Egypt coast. Egyptian TV host Muhammad Al-Ghaity circulated a story that MB members protesting Morsi's ouster in Al-Raba'a Square had rejoiced at the arrival of these U.S. ships. See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4446, TV Host: Egyptian Frogmen Captured U.S. Battleship Commander in 2013, August 24, 2014.
 The reference is to talks held in June 2012 at the Fairmont Hotel in Cairo between Muhammad Morsi, then a presidential candidate on behalf of the MB, and several political and public figures, including Al-Nafie. See Masrawy.com, June 22, 2013; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), April 30, 2013.
 Al-Watan (Egypt), January 31, 2021.