By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: After being expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood, Magdy Ashour said he will resume his duties as an independent MP due to pressure from his district, whose constituent demanded that he represent them in parliament.
Ashour told Daily News Egypt that he accepted his position as MP to comply with the people’s wishes.
“I respect the will of the Egyptian people, especially the people of my district who vehemently insisted that I represent them in parliament and serve them,” he said.
“They [even] held marches in the streets demanding my participation in the runoff elections,” he added.
The Muslim Brotherhood expelled its MP in Al-Nozha district on Wednesday, after he accepted his election as MP, defying the Brotherhood’s decision to withdraw from the runoff elections and parliament.
“Ashour is no longer a member of the Brotherhood,” Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian told Daily News Egypt.
“The decision was issued because Ashour refused to comply with the Brotherhood’s decision to withdraw from the runoff elections and parliament,” El-Erian said. “He insisted on participating in a parliament that was formed through fraud and vote rigging.”
El-Erian said that the Brotherhood will not be represented in parliament altogether.
Ashour said that the people from his district supported him because of his achievements as MP in the last five years.
“We succeeded in providing LE 132 million in health care at the expense of the government and provided more than 2000 jobs for the youth in my district,” he said.
Ashour told Daily News Egypt that the group decided to expel him to “maintain its strength and status [within the community].”
He added that Brotherhood’s decision to expel him didn’t come as a surprise.
“I expected them [the Brotherhood] to expel me from the group and I’m not upset by the decision,” Ashour said.
Ashour added that he respects and accepts the Brotherhood’s decision.
“I respect the Brotherhood as a group,” he said, “I was raised on their principles and the principles of martyr and scholar Hassan El-Banna [the group’s founder].”
The Brotherhood had decided to withdraw from the runoff elections following the announcement of the preliminary results in which the opposition group had won zero seats.
However, Ashour won the only seat clinched by a Brotherhood member in the runoff elections on Dec.5.
The Brotherhood accused the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of flagrant election violations, which included ballot stuffing, vote rigging and denying various opposition candidates’ representatives entry to polling stations, despite their possession of notarized permits.
In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood had won 88 seats and represented nearly 20 percent of the entire outgoing parliament.
There has been wide speculation that the votes were rigged in Ashour’s favor this year and he was pressured by security forces to join the parliament to cause a rift among Brotherhood members, putting the group’s unity into question.
However, Ashour denied these claims. “This is not true,” Ashour said, “In the 2005 elections which were under direct judicial supervision, I received 7,000 votes in the first round and 14,000 in the runoffs.”
“This year I received 8,000 votes in the first round and 16,000 in the runoffs, which is close to what happened in 2005,” he added.
Ashour maintained that there was no vote rigging or fraud in his district.
“There was no vote rigging or fraud in my favor in the 2005 elections which was under direct judicial supervision and I don’t believe there was any this year either,” Ashour said.
“The security forces treated me very well and they didn’t pressure me into participating in the runoff elections,” he added.
Ashour’s brother, Mohamed Ashour, had filed a complaint accusing the Brotherhood of kidnapping the parliamentary candidate on Dec. 4 after a heated argument with the group’s leaders.
The argument stemmed from Magdy Ashour’s decision to participate in the runoff elections, according to Mohamed Ashour.
Ashour later denied the allegations on Egypt’s state television program “Masr El-Naharda.”
“I was under a lot of psychological pressure with [the Brotherhood] pressuring me from one end and [the people of my district] from the other,” Magdy Ashour said.
Ashour added that he decided to travel to Alexandria to “rest and get away from all the pressure,” denying that he was abducted by the group.
Security forces arrested three Brotherhood members implicated in the kidnapping as they were leaving an apartment in Alexandria with Magdy Ashour, according to a statement by the Ministry of Interior.
“When my brother saw me ride the car with some friends, he falsely assumed that I was being kidnapped,” Ashour said. “But I denied these allegations [in front of the prosecution] and all the Brotherhood members who were detained have been released.”
Ashour said that he will represent his people as an independent MP.
“I will call for the people’s rights as MP especially the people of my district and perform my role in legislating laws,” he said.