Following are excerpts from a debate between Egyptian liberal Sayid Al-Qimni and
London Islamist Hani Al-Sibai, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on July 10, 2007:
Hani Al-Sibai: These cancerous cells that have spread through the nation's body, which are the garbage and refuse of the obsolete secular ideology, are the source of corruption, and the reason for all the disasters that befell this nation. These are ideological microbes that are alien to this nation.
Sayid Al-Qimni: We live in a region that does not know what democracy is. In democratic countries, people participate in elections, and the rule changes hands peacefully from the government to the opposition, or vice versa. Here, on the other hand, people prepared cars and bombs, in order to booby-trap the former and blow up the latter. We have no democracy to begin with. We don't understand the meaning of democracy.
Interviewer: But there are attempts to have democracy, Dr. Al-Qimni. There are attempts to have democracy and people like you are thwarting them. This is what happened in Palestine.
Sayid Al-Qimni: No, there are no such attempts.
Interviewer: There are attempts. There were elections in Palestine.
Sayid Al-Qimni: The ballot box alone does not constitute democracy. The ballot box is just a box made of glass, and nobody knows what goes on inside. People put a piece of paper in it. By no means does the ballot box constitute democracy. We are the prey over which two types of [predators] compete: Ruling families and military governments, on the one hand, and Islamic dictatorships, on the other hand. These two types of dictatorships compete over us, the prey.
When the mufti of the government bans a certain book, the mufti of the [Islamist] groups bans a movie. The former places a ban on words, and the latter places a "ban" on an entire person, by killing him. The women wear a uniform like soldiers. You see them in the street, and they all look like soldiers. The government whips anyone who goes to the police station to file a complaint. The Islamists legitimize whipping. If you legitimize whipping, why are you angry when the government does it? How can you be angry at the government for whipping you, when you are the ones legitimizing the whipping? Whipping is part of Islamic law.
When you go to the mosque they humiliate you, saying: "You are responsible for what happened to the nation." This poor man merely came to fulfill his religious duties, and they pile this dirt on him in the mosque. They humiliate him and attribute all the sins of this nation to him. All the nation's defeats are due to this wretched man's defiance of God. They are constantly setting new red lines. Is there such a thing as red lines in democracy? The government has its own red lines, the ruling families have their own red lines, and so do the military and the Islamists. I also have red lines, but it's useless.
As you've said, these people issue fatwas about saliva, about the urine of camels, about the urine of the Prophet, and so on... Look, all these people, this entire process, all the candidates, the people who won the elections, the people who helped them succeed – they all belong in the madhouse.
Hani Al-Sibai: Hamas cleaned up the filth and dirt that had existed in Gaza. Then they plotted against it. They want the elections to give rise to Mahmoud Abbases and Muhammad Dahlans.
What has become of Kemal Ataturk's Turkey? Go to Europe, and you will see. Most of the Turks here are drug dealers, outcasts. Moreover, the English here have a custom. On Christmas, they eat what they call "turkey." Imagine, they call it "turkey," and they serve it as food at the table. This shows the kind of hatred that is deeply rooted in the West – they serve the Turkish, Ottoman, Muslim man as food at the table, for entertainment and as a sign that they have slaughtered him. What has become of Turkey? It has not entered the E.U., and it does not belong to either the East or the West. When Erdogan and his people ruled in Istanbul, people did not have to worry about security matters. The E.U. and all the transparent organizations in the world testified that their hands are clean and that they are not corrupt. This is why the people elected them, and this is why the military intervened now.
The Islamists are always the ones who help people, and save them from their plight. They are active, and that is why they are envied by these microbes, which have spread their ideology throughout our countries. These Islamists, even in Jordan... Take any place in the world, and you will see that the Islamists are the masters of the world. There are no real men except for the people of Islam. Look at the people who give reason to hold the head of Islam high. In politics – they are the masters. In the battlefield – they are the masters. They are the ones who rub in the mud the nose of the occupation forces in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Palestine, and throughout the world. The perpetuality of the conflict makes them strong. In contrast, what is the contribution of those who are devoid of any ideology, whose faith has been deformed, who are divorced of their religion? What have they contributed? The only thing they have contributed is destruction. They are evil omens for their peoples. They lead their people to hell. The masses must vomit them from their midst. They should be placed in public squares, so that people can hit them with their shoes and spit on them. Their place is with the occupiers.
Interviewer: We got the idea. Thank you very much.
Sayid Al-Qimni: This man uses filthy and nauseating language. To hell with him.
Hani Al-Sibai: "My tongue is sharp, and has no flaw, and my sea is too vast for your buckets," Qimni.
Sayid Al-Qimni: You are completely insane. Go away. Go. What, all the garbage dumps were closed and they had to go the sewage to get you?
Our colleges and universities are not recognized in the world. The universities of Cairo and Ein Shams are ranked below 3,000 in the world. We do not have education. Look at the universities today – all you can see is the hijab and niqab. You see a single pupil peering through an eye of a needle. What is this – a centaur?