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Op-Ed review: The Muslim Brotherhood

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On Wednesday 25 December 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood organization has been declared a terrorist group by the government. Columnists have been debating the announcement and how it affects the political scene and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Terrorism-creating government

Bilal Fadl

Al-Shorouk Newspaper

Fadl begins his column in a sarcastic tone, congratulating the Brotherhood on returning to the oppressed “underground” status it held during the Mubarak era. The Brotherhood, despite its oppression at that time, flourished and was able to garner a lot of public regard and support through its grassroots efforts and operated as a supportive community to the needs of the poor. Fadl also congratulates the current regime-personified in Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Al-Beblawi-on reviving the Brotherhood twice; first through the violent dispersal of the Rabaa and Al-Nahda sit-in, which he describes as “the biggest massacre in the modern Egyptian history”, and then by decalring the group a terrorist organization, “exempting it from paying any political taxes required from operational organizations with actual members”.

He states that instead of early presidential elections demanded by the people, Egyptians were given “a military rule with a civilian facade”. He adds that instead of protecting the people from the terrorism in Sinai, the government implanted terrorism within the people’s minds. Fadl also explains that the victims to that kind of mind-manipulation are usually the poor whose feelings were preyed upon during the Mubarak era by painting him as “a father”, elected the Brotherhood in 2012 because they were “God-fearing” and gave Al-Sisi the required authorization [to combat violence and terrorism] on 30 June because he was “male, [a sexist cultural connotation of a leading figure]”.  He blames Adly Mansour, a judge, for allowing the killings to happen under his reign as well as the labelling of the Brotherhood as terrorists. Fadl writes: “He should have told his subordinates that it is a disgrace for the government to become both judge and executioner.”

Instead, the government did not even wait for investigations concerning the Al-Mansoura bombing, but quickly pinned the crime on the Brotherhood to “hide their failures”.  Fadl then laments Egyptians who instantly toss their principals out of the window as they try to justify whatever decision made by the state. He reminds the reader of the similar attitude adopted by Islamists and the occurrence of any sectarian violence against the Copts by stating that they were “a legitimate way to express public anger”. The same people who now are in total accords with the government used to object on these statements and also on Morsi’s decisions, labelling them confusing and impetuous. At the same time, none of them objected to the current government’s haphazard decision of freezing the assets of many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) suspected to be funded by Islamists, but without any concrete evidence. The decision included Al-Game’ya Al-Share’ya and the Food Bank, which were exempted from the decision a day later after the media’s objection. However, the rest of the relatively unknown NGOs’ assets remained frozen.

“You shall not find it strange that statement of the Ministry of Interior’s spokesman was met with silence even though it announced that anyone leading a Brotherhood protest can be sentenced to death, even if that person was a woman,” Fadl writes. Fadl believes that a statement like that alone could create “a thousand terrorists because if a protest alone would lead to your execution then why not blow up yourself taking the lives of a bunch of those who deem your execution acceptable?”

He asks whether the young people who have witnessed the killings of their peers in Rabaa, faced social ostracism for months escalated by the media, and now labelled as terrorists hunted down by other citizens would face these circumstances with calmness and move on with their lives or whether they would choose death. He adds that those who will die are probably the poor, helpless members of society rather than the rich leaders who are happily protected within their mansions.

Fadl adds that the victims to these bombings will be other helpless citizens who have nothing to do with the government or politics. He concludes that both government officials and media professionals are working to justify the same ideas and method of operation, and that the only loser is the Egyptian population.

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A reading of the Brotherhood’s statement

Wael Abdelfatah

Tahrir Newspaper

Columnist Wael Abdelfatah mentions several points concerning the announcement and the statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood following the cabinet’s declaration deeming the group a terrorist organisation.

First, he states that power and truth is lost between two parties who are eager to rule the country and burn anything stopping them from reaching their objective. At the same time, both parties want to “transform us to a herd of sheep singing their praises, and if we refuse, we are punished by being beaten down, imprisoned, tortured and killed”.

Second, he describes the Brotherhood as a “fascist” group fighting to remain in the political arena rather than a political group suffering from oppression.

Third, right in the middle of the raging conflict is “a panicked audience who has lost a part of its soul, security and feels dwarfed by two parties that threaten death in case of refusing to surrender” to their wishes.

Fourth, “the idea of war against terrorism is more of a method of propaganda than anything else”. He adds that the propaganda was a result of 30 June, a culmination of the “failure we have been living for over 60 years”.

Fifth, he blames the archaic mentality adopted by previous and current regimes, whose officials are unable to come up with any new solutions, but recycle policies and decisions, leading to the failure of the ruling entity.

Sixth, he explains that it was natural for the Brotherhood’s response to adopt racial and sectarian incitement, urging hatred and creating a breeding ground for the creation of “a civil war”.

Seventh, Abdelfatah explains that their statement affirms the idea that the Brotherhood is not a political group. Despite its long history with many oppressive regimes and then reaching power, it has failed to learn anything political. However, “it transformed their feeling of oppression to a justification to commit the sort of crimes mentioned in the statement”.

Eighth: “In their statement, the Brotherhood mentioned: ‘after this ferocious campaign on the Islamist NGOs, the door is now open for Christian missionary organisations to convert poor Muslims’”.

Ninth, Abdelfatah explains that what the adopted sectarian tone can be considered a crime on its own.

Tenth, “the Brotherhood considers any war on them is a war on Islam and in this war they depend on awakening the dark feelings fostered by the Brotherhood and every group that awaited the return of the Islamic Caliphate”.

Eleventh, he believes that the Brotherhood, since its creation in 1928, has worked on the revival of the Islamic caliphate rule and it considers this system as a source of power rather than an extinct form of ruling.

Twelfth, these groups that await the caliphate can only operate in a sectarian or oppressive atmosphere, considering Islam as a foreign and oppressed element.

Thirteenth, Abdelfatah explains that terrorism is adopted by all of Islamist groups from the Brotherhood to Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis; their methods differ, but they all justify the death of others as Jihad.

Fourteenth, Abdelfatah believes that this kind of thinking benefits the state as it uses it to achieve its own agenda by supporting a case of panic and upheaval for which it is unaccountable. “This is how we lived in a state of emergency for 30 years during the Mubarak era in fear of the Islamists who were sponsored and strengthened by the state in its backyard.”

Fifteenth, “the state believes that it can get rid of the revolution by mobilizing the people against the Brotherhood” and that is Abdelfatah believes to prevent any kind of real change.

Sixteenth, Abdelfatah explains that the state is using the Brotherhood as a justification to reinstal its former regime and reinstating the police state, which would benefit it during elections as it completely distances the Brotherhood from the electoral race.

Abdelfatah concludes that the Brotherhood shall use this crisis to revive its own corrupt system, preying on the state’s failure. He finishes by stating that labelling Brotherhood members as terrorists will not disband the Brotherhood as they are used to benefiting from and growing in conditions of oppression.


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