CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) Secretary General Mahmoud Ezzat, told Daily News Egypt that the group is still undecided about participating in a proposed May 4 general strike.
“The groups’ position on the next general strike has not yet been decided. But the MB always supports any positive calls for change and for freedom of choice as long as this is done legally and peacefully, Ezzat said.
The May 4 strike is a follow-up to the recent April 6 strike, after which the 27-year-old Esraa Abdel Fattah was detained for administering a Facebook group calling for nationwide civil disobedience. The strike was to coincide with a planned protest by textile workers in the Delta city of Mahalla against rising prices.
As a backlash to the state security crackdown on the protesters, which saw the detention of at least 200 activists, another Facebook group quickly sprang up calling for a May 4 general strike to coincide with the President Hosni Mubarak’s birthday.
The local press reported on Friday that over 250,000 people plan to join the May 4 strike, including 700 Muslim Brotherhood youths. One Brotherhood blogger criticized Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef for boycotting the April 6 strike in order to appease the government.
He said that although Akef did not directly demand the acquittal of the 25 members who recently received jail terms after a military trial, the group’s boycott of any popular action was indirectly intended to assuage the authorities.
In a related issue, Ezzat confirmed that the 15 Brotherhood members who were acquitted following the year-long military trial earlier this week were indeed released.
He added, however, that the procedures of their release were “inhuman as they were all taken back to their respective hometowns, where they were kept in police custody until their families – mostly residing in other governorates – arrived to pick them up.
Addressing Muslim leaders in a statement released on Thursday, Akef asked them to find alternatives to “conferences and negotiations to resolve the Muslim world’s many crises.
He also urged members of the group to be patient in the face of “unfair sentences handed down to 25 of the group’s members.”We will either reach our goal or die getting there, said Akef.
Of the 25 given jail terms, five received 10-year sentences, two received 7 years (Khayrat El-Shater and Hassan Malek) five were sentenced to 5 years and the remaining 13 received three-year sentences.
Those who received the 10-year sentences were members being tried in absentia.
Initially, the charges leveled against the defendants included terrorism and money laundering but by the time of sentencing the charges had been reduced to funding a banned organization.