BRUSSELS, May 7 (KUNA) -- The European Parliament Tuesday is hosting a debate aimed at understanding what political Islam is amid the issue of democracy and Islam and Europe's relations with the ruling Islamic parties in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
Opening the meeting, Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said Islamic parties rose as the strongest political contenders for power at the 2012 elections, in particular in the three Arab countries.
"They are likely to do well in future elections in other countries also," he stated.
There is a strong need, he stressed, for the EU to rethink its relations with its southern neighbours and establish link and to bring democracy and Islam together.
Piere Vimont, executive secretary general in the EU's External Action Service, said there is a need to explain what political Islam is to the westerners.
"We should ask questions, exchange views, give our own experience and have a fruitful dialogue," he said and underlined that the EU is on the side of democratic transition as it unfolds in the Arab Spring countries.
Dr. Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, Egyptian Member of Parliament and spokesman of the foreign relations committee of the Freedom and Justice Party, praised the process of rethinking in Europe in its relations with its southern neighbours.
"The concept of neigbhour is very important in the Arab Islamic culture," he underlined but also condemned western colonialism for creating a "inferiority complex mentality " in the Arab Muslim world and a "superiority complex " in the minds of westerners.
He called for the start of "a new day, new ways of thinking "of both sides.
"The moderate voices in the Arab world and Europe can do much together," he said and added that a new term called "Muslim democrats "is emerging in his country. Dardery called on Europeans to help reforms and fix the institutions to fight corruption in Egypt adding that " we are not asking for charity but for equal partnership." Gebad El-Haddad, senior advisor, Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice party in Egypt, noted that for the first time the European Parliament has invited a Muslim Brotherhood representative although many other political parties from Egypt had been invited by the EU Parliament.
"The Muslim Brotherhood has suffered from an extensive demonization campaign for over five decades inside and also outside Egypt," he stressed and said there was a "tremendous amount of disinformation " about the group in the West.
He called for the "need to rebuild bridges of trust" and to separate "facts from fabrication "and urged the EU Parliament not to believes what is published in the media about developments on Egypt.
He said that parliamentary elections could be held in Egypt in September and October.
Mustapha El Khalfi, Moroccan minister of communications said that after the outbreak of the Arab Spring , Morocco chose a third path making necessary reforms without losing stability.
"We have developed a very unique model in the region," he stressed.
Elhabib Choubani, minister of relations with the parliament and civil society in Morocco also spoke about the peaceful democratic changes in his country and noted that monarchy has been a facilitating factor in this process.
The Members of the European Parliament posed a number of questions to the speakers on human and women's rights, rights of Christians, compatibility of democracy and Islam, and so on. (end) KUNA 071512 May 13NNNN