CAIRO: Deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Mohamed Habib questioned the authenticity of an online statement condemning the two-year prison sentence handed down to democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim but expressed support for the self-exiled activist.
The statement, which appeared on the group’s English-language website, said “Ikhwanweb expresses its disappointment at the recent court order of Aug. 2 against Dr Saad Eddin Ibrahim, read the statement.
Yet Habib told Daily News Egypt that no such statement was officially made by the MB’s guidance office.
“We don’t know who made the statement and posted it on the website, Habib said.
He was, however, quick to assert his support for Ibrahim in this particular case. “We support freedom of expression and the right of every Egyptian citizen to express his opinion no matter what it is.
The sociology professor and director of Ibn Khaldoun Center for Developmental Studies was sentenced to a two-year prison term and LE 10,000 fine when he was found guilty of defaming Egypt’s image abroad and making false statements harmful to Egypt’s national security.
According to the statement, “Ikhwanweb believes the trial of Dr Ibrahim is politically-motivated and an attempt by the Egyptian regime to silence all voices of opposition.
Habib echoed the same sentiment. “It is definitely a political case of the first degree, he said.
Such cases of a political nature, which usually end in the prosecution of opposition members, bring together leaders from both ends of the ideological spectrum.
In spite of ideological differences, Ibrahim had previously criticized the military trials of Brotherhood leaders. In an article he wrote for independent daily Al-Dostour, he noted how human rights advocates have supported him in spite of their political and ideological differences and disagreements.
Political analysts, however, remain skeptical about the Brotherhood statement.
Diaa Rashwan, an expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt that the statement is “strange and doubted that the Brotherhood would release it.
“It could all be correct up to the part that says ‘We express our full solidarity with Dr Ibrahim,’ said Rashwan. “I doubt the MB would say that, since Ibrahim’s case is very sensitive because of the political problems he has been through and currently faces.
On the other hand, MB lawyer Abdel-Moniem Abdel-Maqsoud, explains that it’s unlikely that this announcement will create any problems to the group. “What more could be done, oppression, detentions or military trials all currently exist, he said.
“This is nothing new to the Muslim Brotherhood. We advocate freedom of speech and opinion and support anyone affected by its oppression disregarding their ideology, beliefs or religion, he added.
The statement ended with the group announcing that they are going to support Ibrahim throughout his legal battle. “We express our full solidarity with Dr Ibrahim and call on democratic and civil society institutions to support Dr Ibrahim and step in for his defense, it said.