"I cannot afford not to be in Egypt at this time to witness this historic moment, when the president of the biggest Arab country comes from Tahrir Square, the home of the Arab Spring," Rached Al-Ghannouchi, leader Tunisia 's Islamist Ennahda Party, said today.
Over the last two months, Al-Ghannouchi visited Cairo three times to hold meetings with political leaders and share his country experience in the transition from autocracy to democracy.
On Friday, Al-Ghannouchi gave a speech to hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who went to Tahrir Square watch President Mohamed Morsi offer a symbolic oath.
"It is a historic and very emotional moment, when I saw the president of Egypt take an oath in Tahrir Square, where the revolution came from," Al-Ghannouchi said in a roundtable discussion with Al-Ahram daily and Ahram Online staff during his visit to Cairo.
In Tahrir Square on Friday, Al-Ghannouchi congratulated Morsi for his electoral victory. "I urge all the Egyptians to be united and build their country, in order to achieve the goals of the Egyptian revolution," he said.
Answering an Al-Ahram question about what he thought of Morsi's Tahrir speech, he said what the new Egyptian president said was a very important step, announcing the death of the Mubarak regime.
"If Morsi implemented what he said in his speech in Tahrir Square, Egypt would be the most democratic country in the region and might restore its historic important role on the regional and international levels," Al-Gannouchi said.
Al-Gannouchi added that Morsi talked on Friday and Saturday as the president of all Egyptians, not as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Ghannouchi also said that he believes that the future of the democracy and stability in the region depends on what will happen in Egypt in the coming years, and that Egypt's current leader must understand that his responsibilities go beyond Egypt's borders, which is a tremendous challenge.
The difference between the Egyptian and Tunisian experience, in Al-Ghannouchi's opinion, is the role of the military in the transition. As the military has ruled Egypt for the last 60 years, it is not easy to draw them back to the barracks in one day. It takes time.
Al-Gannouchi added that the political and economic equation in Egypt is much more complicated than in Tunisia. The road to stability and democracy in Egypt needs a system that embraces all players in the equation that have made remarkable sacrifices over the last decade to free Egypt from authoritarian rule.
"During my previous meetings with my brothers in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), I advised them to share powers with all other political forces, and not to control everything," he said.
Responding to a question about the implementation of Sharia law in Egypt, Al-Ghannouchi said that the interpretation of Sharia is different from one school of Islamic thinking to another, and Muslims are allowed to study Islamic jurisprudence all the time and never stop with what has been said for centuries, making implementing Sharia law difficult.
"Sharia is not one template that can implemented once we want to do so; everyone has his own interpretation, and I think Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia understand that well," Al-Gannouchi said.
What is the scope of the implementation of Islam? This is something that is debatable, Al-Gannouchi said, and is up to society to decide, not Islamists in Egypt or in Tunisia or in any country.
According to Al-Ghannouchi, the Arab Spring is the end of the US "Greater Middle East project" that was announced by former US President George W Bush nearly a decade ago.
About the relation between Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia, Al-Ghannouchi said that the West and Israel understand that the region is entering a new phase and they know that they have to adapt to the new rulers of the Arab world.
He added that since the beginning of the Arab Spring, Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia and other countries rejected the idea of making deals with Western countries; that the revolution in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria were made by the people of these nations.
He added that Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt have made it clear to the US and European countries that they are open to having good relations with all countries and building bridges of cooperation on all levels.
Al-Ghannouchi also said that Tunisia is now passing an important stage and striving to end its transitional period.
"Over the last year the economic situation has deteriorated and the unemployment rate has doubled. That fed the anger of millions of Tunisian youth who took the streets to protest against low salaries and high prices."
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