Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

The Brotherhood has ‘totally lost its senses’

Amany Maged on this week’s escalation of Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric, and bloody terrorist attacks

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Muslim Brotherhood chose 25 January to escalate attacks carried out by its proxy jihadists in Sinai. The Muslim Brotherhood is known to have entered into an undeclared alliance with jihadist groups in the peninsula at least as far back as the 30 June 2013 revolution.

Recent Brotherhood statements have upped the rhetorical ante. The group has also steeped up its international manoeuvring. A recent meeting between Brotherhood and US State Department officials triggered an outcry in Egypt and abroad.

The most inflammatory statement produced in the aftermath of last week’s deadly Sinai attacks was circulated by the Command of the Youth of the Revolution. The statement was aired on a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated television station based in Istanbul.

The statement was an ultimatum giving “all foreigners, and all employees of foreign companies in Egypt” until midnight, 11 February, to leave the country. Those who fail to comply with the deadline will be considered legitimate targets.

The statement threatened embassies and told tourists planning to visit Egypt to cancel their trips: “Embassies and diplomats must leave Egypt by 28 February and tourists must cancel their trips. They are not welcome in the land of Egypt.”

The broadcast of the statement, says Islamist movement expert Ahmed Mounir, is evidence that the Muslim Brothers “have totally lost their senses” and are now “trying to show they continue to exist by any means at all.”

While Mounir does not believe the threats made in the statement will be acted on he anticipates more terrorist attacks, some of them planned to coincide with 11 February, the anniversary of the removal of Hosni Mubarak.

The visit by a delegation of Brotherhood members to the State Department is, says Mounir, part of the same desperate strategy to show the group continues to be relevant. The visit sparked widespread criticism among American and Arab political analysts.

A national security correspondent for the Examiner sees the visit as evidence that the US State Department have yet to grasp how widespread the popular rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood is throughout the Middle East. The meeting, he wrote, is a slap in the face of Egypt, a US ally engaged in an ongoing conflict against terrorists.

The Muslim Brotherhood visit to the US had two purposes, says Samuel Tadros, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington. The first was to rally support for the Brotherhood among Egyptian, Arab and Muslim communities in the US; the second to attempt to woo officials in Washington.

The delegation, notes Tadros, included some non-Brotherhood members, in an attempt to create the impression that an anti-regime alliance exists in Egypt between Islamists and non-Islamists.

The meeting at the State Department was not listed in the published schedules of US officials. The State Department eventually acknowledged a meeting had taken place after Brotherhood delegation members posted photographs of themselves inside the State Department raising the four-finger “Rabaa” salute and boasted on Twitter of their “fruitful” negotiations in Washington.

The Brotherhood delegation included Maha Awam, Mohamed Hishmet, Safwat Nafei, Abdel Mawgoud Al-Dardiri and Walid Shorabi. It held a series of seminars in Washington, sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID).

Analysts see the visit as an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to drum up international support by marketing the notion that public opinion in Egypt is opposed to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

Meanwhile, the Salafist Calling has issued a statement condemning the ultimatum issued by the Command of the Youth of the Revolution. It draws attention to the reaction of Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the assassinations and bombings attributed to the organization in the 1940s. Such acts violated the principles of Islam, said Al-Banna, and those who carried them out, “are not our brothers and are not Muslim.”

The statement described the threats against foreign companies operating in Egypt as “a declaration of war on the livelihoods of the Egyptian people.”

The Salafist Calling’s statement called on the government “to redress grievances, compensate innocent victims, listen to the complaints of citizens and deal with them transparently.” It is the first time the Salafist Calling has made such a demand.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has made it clear that he blames the Muslim Brotherhood for last week’s terrorist attacks, noting in a widely broadcast speech that in the lead-up to the 30 June Revolution a Muslim Brotherhood leader had threatened to trigger waves of violence across Egypt by using mujahideen from other countries.

The government is intensifying security measures in anticipation of further attacks targeting the army and police.

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