Following are excerpts from an interview with Tareq Al-Zumar, a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad Organization. Al-Zumar had been imprisoned for his role in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat, and was pardoned by the Egyptian Armed Forces Supreme Council in March 2011. The interview aired on Misr 25 TV on August 4, 2011.
Tareq Al-Zumar: The whole Al-Qaeda issue has been blown out of proportion internationally. Do the mistakes made by Al-Qaeda over the past 12 or 15 years equal one-billionth of the mistakes and crimes perpetrated by the US and Britain against the Arab and Islamic nation?
Interviewer: Will you allow a woman or a Christian – a non-Muslim – to be entrusted with the presidency, the most supreme position in the country, in the Islamic state to which you aspire?
Tareq Al-Zumar: These matters are subject to the principles of political Islamic jurisprudence, which should govern society. Some of these matters are considered innovations, which can be adopted according to the circumstances of our times.
Interviewer: Have you given this issue any thought in your political party?
Tareq Al-Zumar: With regard to the issue of women as rulers, I believe that there is a consensus that such a thing is not allowed.
Interviewer: What about a non-Muslim?
Tareq Al-Zumar: There is a consensus about this too. But this does not prevent them from having other positions in society. Throughout Islamic history, Copts, or non-Muslims, were appointed to such positions, contrary to the practice in many other countries, including Western and European countries.
With regard to the implementation of the Islamic punishments, this is part of the Islamic political model. This is one of the types of punishment imposed in society. In my opinion, the rumors in this regard are an attempt to vilify the Islamic punishments, at a time when there are much worse punishments in Western societies, for things that should not incur punishment.
Interviewer: But do you believe that Islamic punishments should be implemented, even if only in order to deter and scare people, such as chopping off the hands of thieves, the beheading of murderers, and so on?
Tareq Al-Zumar: If a society has thieves, what prevents us from chopping off the hands of a few of them, in order to make society as a whole safer?
To return to the question of implementing Islamic punishments – whenever they were implemented, it was not in the way people imagine. People think that if the hand of one thief is chopped off, it means that a million hands will be chopped off. Our claim is that once this punishment has been implemented once or twice, the goal will be accomplished.