Egypt: How the Army Demonized the Brotherhood

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Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi raise up posters with the four finger symbol during a demonstration against the military backed government in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on 13 September 2013. (Photo: AFP - Mahmoud Khaled)

By: Rania Rabih al-Abd

Published Friday, September 13, 2013

Excluding the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt’s political scene will only increase the steadfastness of the group’s supporters. Yet, the campaign against them persists. While the army believes it is confronting terrorism, the Brotherhood see this as an attempt to vilify and exclude.

Cairo – The Muslim Brotherhood's mistakes when it was in power are not enough to justify its total exclusion from Egypt’s political scene, as hoped by the country’s de facto military ruler. Thus, the military pushed to vilify the Brotherhood, as evident in the scandalous media campaign that seeks to legitimize a campaign of arrests. The violent reactions of some Brotherhood members, in word and in deed, has also facilitated the campaign.

The security campaign against the Brotherhood has led to the political and social exclusion of some of its members and even individuals who are merely sympathetic. The latest of such moves was the suspension of thousands of mosque imams from work and the arrest of hundreds of students who participated in the pro-Mohamed Mursi sit-ins at Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda.

The campaign is bringing together a wide array of pro-military segments, such as media organizations, governmental security agencies, and educational institutions, sometimes backed by judicial decisions.

"Egypt Against Terrorism" was the slogan raised by Egyptian media prior to the dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in and still remains on various TV stations. The “terrorism” mentioned is that of the Muslim Brotherhood – nobody else.

On every channel, prominent television anchors began demonizing the Brotherhood, while the media changed their direction from supporting the January 25 Revolution to supporting the corrective path of June 30.

The NGO, The Police and The People, through its secretary general, Ehab Youssef, called on the Interior Ministry to confront terrorism before it happens. "We are dealing with the terrorist Brotherhood organization, which is more despicable and violent than the Brotherhood of the 1980s," he urged. "What the Brotherhood is doing is not of religion or goodwill."

Political parties are actively trying to ban the Brotherhood to formally prevent it from civil or political work. The Tagammu Party announced on Tuesday, September 10, that it had filed a lawsuit against the Brotherhood, indicating that a court session is set to announce the verdict next Sunday at the Cairo Court of Urgent Affairs.

In its lawsuit, the party called for outlawing the Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as other organizations and charities with Brotherhood partisans as members. It also demanded that all its financial holdings, real estate, and accounts be confiscated. The lawsuit requested that these assets be put under the management of an independent legal committee affiliated with the Council of Ministers until a final legal decision is reached.

The nationalization of the Brotherhood was not limited to the Tagammu lawsuits. Authorities are beginning to enact harsh measures against Brotherhood members in some governorates. This includes a ban on official dealings with schools fully or partially owned by Brotherhood members. The first step in this regard was the decision of the education minister to dismiss all Brotherhood members from top ministry positions.

Minister of Education Mahmoud Abu al-Nasr believed the dismissal of prominent Brotherhood officials was to stop the waste of public money and maintain the cohesion of the ministry's work.

He replied to accusations of "militarizing" the ministry, maintaining that all Brotherhood officials were dismissed following their absence from work during the demonstrations in support of Mursi. The absences disabled the ministry’s work, he claimed, leading to official warnings that were ignored.

The accusations do not stop here. The mere possession of a shirt with Mursi’s face or the Rabaa logo, made up of four raised fingers on a yellow background, is enough to be targeted and arrested. The charges are not fabricated – they have now been legitimized.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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