Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian presidential candidate Bassem Khafagi, which aired on Al-Hekma TV on March 14, 2012.
For more on Khafagi, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4571, "Bassem Khafagi, Former Community Relations Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and A Founder of Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) – Who In 2003 Was Convicted In U.S. and Deported – Says In His Presidential Campaign in Egypt: I Pledge To 'Complete Implementation of Islamic Law'", March 14, 2012, Bassem Khafagi, Former Community Relations Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and A Founder of Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) - Who In 2003 Was Convicted In U.S. and Deported - Says In His Presidential Campaign in Egypt: I Pledge To 'Complete Implementation of Islamic Law'.
Interviewer: "What is your position with regard to the Shiites and Iran?"
Bassem Khafagi: "In my view, there are two enterprises of equal importance: a Persian enterprise and a Shiite enterprise. When it comes to the Shiite enterprise, I embrace the Sunni view: We are Islam, and there is a deviant sect. This deviant sect cursed the Prophet Muhammad and his wives, and they invoke the idols of the Quraysh tribe in their prayers.
"There is not a single book on the Shia that I have not read. When I was in the U.S., I held many discussions with Shiites. I know very well all their claims about the Koran of Fatima, and regarding the notions of taqiyya, bada'a, and so on. In terms of theology, I am, of course, completely in line with the Sunni view, without any doubt. I don't need to expand on this.
"With regard to the other issue – the Persian enterprise – I view it as equally dangerous. The establishment of a Shiite-Persian Crescent should be prevented at all costs, because it aims to divide the Sunnis in the region. They would like to sever Turkey from the Arabian Peninsula and from Egypt. In my view, the revival of this region is based upon Egypt, first and foremost, and upon its allies in its living space, particularly Turkey and Saudi Arabia. These three countries are of great importance, because together they have tremendous power, not to be ignored, for the revival of the region. This powerful entity should not be allowed to be divided up…"
Interviewer: "So you are saying that you will not have any dealings with Iran – neither in their capacity as Persians nor in their capacity as Shiites?"
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Bassem Khafagi: "I am prepared to deal even with the devil, but on one condition."
Interviewer: "What do you mean by 'the devil'?"
Bassem Khafagi: "I will do absolutely anything that serves the main strategic interests of Egypt. I am not ashamed of myself, and I am not ashamed of my country…"
Interviewer: "We are now hearing of billions being invested in Egypt by Iran. Do you accept such financial aid or investment in the economy of Egypt?"
Bassem Khafagi: "I will first examine if there are – and I'm sure there are – ulterior motives, which undermine Egypt's national security. I will not allow any threat to Egypt's national security for the sake of billions, regardless of their source – be it the Zionist entity or anyone else. I want investments in Egypt to come from friends of Egypt. Any party that wants to declare its friendship with Egypt is welcome."
Interviewer: "The U.S., for example?"
Bassem Khafagi: "The U.S. has never declared its friendship with Egypt. It declared its friendship with Mubarak. But its entire conduct… Whoever finances and supports my main enemy in the region is no friend of mine. […]
"When I first went to America – like many Islamists who went there – I loved Islamic preaching there. I loved the place I lived in, but I never loved the U.S., the infidel country. […]
"I wrote in my article that the U.S. constitutes a criminal element in this world. All my writings in recent years explain the unacceptable Western subjugation enterprise. I discussed the RAND report, which was read by most of the Muslim world's elite. I was the first to write about this report and the first to translate it into Arabic. I was the first to expose the notion of 'moderate Islam,' which is used as a means to canonize a 'non-Islamic Islam.' I don't know why they call it 'moderation.' This 'moderation' means violation [of the laws] of Islam." […]