September 21, 2008

Jordanian Muslim Botherhood Leader on Fighting Corruption, Hamas Meetings

Text of report by Qatari government-funded website on 18 September

["Full text" of interview with Controller General of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Hammam Sa'id; place, date not given: "Hammam Sa'id: We are Not Neutral in the Fight Against Corruption in Jordan."]

The Controller General of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Hammam Sa'id, said that the Brotherhood does not take a neutral stand in the battle against corruption in Jordan, and called for taking to task a number of senior politicians involved in corruption.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Sa'id refused to discuss recent developments in Jordan or that the Brotherhood takes the side of any of the figures in the big political disagreement in the country. However, he said the Brotherhood supports any side that exposes and confronts corruption, and opposes any figure whose involvement in corruption is proven.

Following is the full text of the interview:

[Muhammad al-Najjar] Let us begin with the current contacts between you and the directorate of intelligence, and between the directorate of intelligence and Hamas. Do you believe those meetings are protocol meetings or do they deal with fundamental issues?

[Hammam Sa'id] As the Controller General of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan I would like to affirm that we proceed from strategic and not tactical premises. Ever since the Brotherhood's inception in Jordan we have been carrying out our duty in propagating [da'wah] for Almighty God and working in accordance with its big aim, namely the resumption of Islamic life in this beloved and dear society. When Hamas was established it began as a jihadist project to defend the rights of the ummah [nation] in Palestine. Praise be to God, that project has borne fruit and yielded big achievements in the Palestinian arena. It was supposed to find support in the areas surrounding Palestine in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. However, that project was kept separate from its supporters among the surrounding peoples who felt and continue to feel the heavy responsibility and the duty to champion and support this project and to participate in shouldering its burdens.

However, in recent years strategic projects - be they the Islamic movement project or the project to liberate Palestine and to establish a struggling [mujahid] Islamic organization in Palestine - were persecuted. We all know of the many measures adopted in an attempt to isolate the Islamic organization in Jordan from its public and people, and to isolate the jihadist organization in Palestine from its environment.

Now a dialogue is taking place to restore a kind of relationship. We ask that the relationship should be compatible with the principles and strategies of both the Islamic movement in Jordan and Hamas in Palestine. We hope there will be radical changes in the attitude towards the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and that it will be viewed as one of the main components of Jordanian society, and that it will be dealt with without attempting to exclude it, cut it down to size, or depriving it of its basic rights.

We also hope that the dialogue with Hamas will be based on a sense of duty towards the Palestinian people and on the fact that such support safeguards Jordan and prevents the creation of an alternative homeland [for the Palestinians].

On this basis we welcome any dialogue that leads to that direction. We cannot reject anything that offers us solutions and facilities that achieve for Muslims in this country their goals and objectives, and enlist for Hamas those who help it to achieve its objectives.

[Al-Najjar] You said you do not want to go into the details of the dialogue with the chief of intelligence, but do you sense a serious discussion of the issues that are being discussed?

[Sa'id] If we want to assess the atmosphere with regard to the dialogue and the response to some positive matters, we notice that there is a positive atmosphere that did not exist previously. However, what we ask for is to go deep in discussing issues and to enable the Brotherhood to achieve its aims and to give it the right to serve Jordanian society and to get to the depth of the matter in supporting jihad in Palestine, and consequently drawing back from the relations with the Jewish entity.

[Al-Najjar] Do you think there is something that brings together Jordan, Hamas, and the Islamic movement today after the failure of [efforts on] the peace track and Jordan's fears of a solution to the Palestine question at its expense: by establishing an alternative homeland for the Palestinians in Jordan?

[Sa'id] Actually our discourse has not changed. Our logic has been the same for scores of years. We have warned against the dangers and ambitions in Jordan and said they were similar to ambitions in Palestine. If the official sides become aware of those dangers then that is good, but what should result from this is that a strategic approach is taken and dossiers are dealt with radically.

[Al-Najjar] Do you look forward to the present dialogue developing into a comprehensive dialogue and on higher levels between you and Jordanian officials, and that the dialogue does not remain restricted to a dialogue with the Islamic movement's MPs?

[Sa'id] We believe that such dialogue should go hand-in-hand with achievements -achievements that we want for our Jordanian people and for the Palestinian people. If it transpires that there is something that achieves what is agreed upon in those dialogues then that raises the level of dialogue and makes its horizon wider and more expansive.

[Al-Najjar] One of the issues that remained outstanding between you and successive governments is the sequestration of the Islamic Centre Association [ICA] which some people describe as the Brotherhood's economic arm. Have you received promises that it will be restored to you?

[Sa'id] The ICA is now passing through a very big crisis. The Islamic Hospital today has millions of dinars in debts and is in great danger. A review of the association's situation needs to be carried out very quickly. It is known that always voluntary work does not succeed when it is under government management. Consequently, if the government restores ICA then that will achieve the interests of the homeland and the citizens. ICA represents the interests of the poor, the orphans, and the sick. It is not right to tolerate the administration of ICA by a temporary management run by employees, because an employee does not shoulder responsibility in the way volunteers do. There have been promises that the government will restore the association but we look at deeds and do not pay attention to promises.

As for the assertion that ICA is the Brotherhood's economic arm that suggests naive thinking. Some people imagine that if the ICA is taken away from the Brotherhood that will hamper its activity, and that has been proven to be wrong. The Brotherhood is capable of establishing associations and bodies, and the Brotherhood is blamed for being content with one association. The norm is that the Brotherhood establishes hundreds of associations and participates with the Jordanian people in their other associations.

[Al-Najjar] There is in Jordan now a kind of struggle between two trends within the ruling establishment. How do you view that struggle and the issues that are being raised over its details, bearing in mind that you had a view on some of the issues that were raised when that argument was raging?

[Sa'id] Anyone who is following the Brotherhood's stands will find that the corruption dossiers are at the top of our priorities, and we began early on to raise and warn of those issues including the sale of private establishments and the sale of the port of Aqaba, the [King Husayn] Medical Centre, Sports City, and other historical and modern landmarks. We called for taking to task those who dared to tamper with the ownership of public establishments. We consider them to be tantamount to a religious endowment [waqf] which no one is entitled to dispose of except within the limits of the endowment's interests.

With regard to certain dossiers we consider that the casino dossier is still open, and the questions we put forward are still waiting for answers. Those issues must not be shelved and forgotten without establishing who is responsible. It is a matter of establishments, measures, and manifestations of corruption that still exist and the culprits have not been called to account. We will not remain silent on this matter and we must open those dossiers with boldness and transparency.

We demand an investigation into the dossiers of dignified housing for a dignified living. I do not know why we should remain silent on corruption that would have taken place if tenders were offered to certain quarters had it not been for the vigilance of some conscientious people.

What worries us is that those who are responsible for corruption in those dossiers are people with power and decision makers who harness decisions and power in the service of corruption in this country. We are not partial to any side that is guilty of corruption and we are not partial to a side that faces corruption. We say to anyone who points to corruption well done, and to anyone who is guilty of corruption you have done wrong. We are not neutral in the battle against corruption. We demand the investigation and trial of anyone who is guilty of corruption and we confront it.

[Al-Najjar] Recently there has been talk about several corruption dossiers. Do you believe there is seriousness in combating corruption in Jordan?

[Sa'id] So far we do not feel there is seriousness in combating corruption. The proof of that is that people have been talking about corruption dossiers for a long time -things that exist and are visible and people can see with their own eyes -but so far we have not seen anyone attacking those fortresses of corruption.

[Al-Najjar] One of the latest issues that are being raised in Jordan today is the accusation levelled at Jordanians, including a senior official, of trading in human beings, as in the suit filed in US courts by the families of Nepalese citizens who were killed in Iraq. How do you view this issue which some people said is very serious?

[Sa'id] Regrettably, the trade in human beings was not only in Nepalese workers but was also in Jordanian young men. I ask: how many Jordanian young men were sent to work as translators, servants, and drivers for the US Army in Iraq? Is not allowing Jordanians to be employed by a US administration that invaded Iraq trading in human beings? There are also those who conclude contracts with the US Army and export to it foodstuff and requisites. Are they not trading and participating in the occupation of Iraq and the desecration of its land.

Regarding the Jordanian companies that are being sued in US courts, litigation against them indicates that such cases are documented. We are surprised to see the US judiciary opening such dossiers while the office of the Jordanian Prosecutor General has not opened them. Those dossiers are supposed to be opened in Jordan before they are opened in the United States. If this matter is proved, it will undoubtedly be one of the biggest crimes and cases of corruptions that should be fought.

[Al-Najjar] Jordan today is experiencing economic problems and passing through political crises that directly influence citizens' lives. What in your view is the way out of those crises?

[Sa'id] The first solution is to give the people their freedom and their right to real representation according to their will. How can a shackled people who do not exercise their freedom and who are not allowed to put forward their representatives who represent their views accomplish achievements?

I believe that solving problems and achieving a national consensus begins with political reform which begins with an electoral law that represents the Jordanian people properly and enables them to choose their representatives who express their conscience, problems, and causes, and not to continue with the present course. I believe that the municipal councils and House of Representatives produced by the [latest] elections should not continue. We demand an electoral law as part of a number of laws, such as the assembly law, the associations law, the religious endowments law, and the law on the issuing of fatwas. We also demand a review of the economic laws which crushed the Jordanian people and which gave companies accused of corruption the right to expand at the expense of Jordan and the rights of its citizens. That can be corrected only through genuine parliamentary elections in accordance with a real law produced by the real will of the people.

[Al-Najjar] How do you view the present situation in Palestine, especially with regard to the failure of the peace process and Jordan's fears of a solution to the Palestine question at its expense?

[Sa'id] I say if the peace camp collapses then the jihad will grow and become stronger, thank God. This project is a guarantee for the entire region. I want to assure the Jordanian people and the Palestinian people that your cause is in the hands of honest and struggling people, and that while those who are eagerly gasping after what is being called peace there are those who are holding on to their guns and those who are struggling in Palestine and those who are standing fast in Jordan, for they are the fortress of this ummah and this people.

Those have been successive defeats for the negotiators who know they will not get anything. However, the failure of their course has relieved the ummah of the consumptive pattern of the political negotiations, because the aim was not to regain rights or achieve a result, but the aim was to waste this nation's time. Thank God they have failed.

Originally published by website, Doha, in Arabic 18 Sep 08.

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