Monday,20 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1249, (4 - 10 June 2015)
Monday,20 August, 2018
Issue 1249, (4 - 10 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Warning shots?

A statement signed by 150 Muslim scholars and issued ahead of the second anniversary of the ouster of Mohamed Morsi signals a possible shift in tactics by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Amany Maged reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

A statement calling for the elimination of the ruling authorities in Egypt has been signed by 150 Muslim scholars from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and other countries. The 150 signatories hail from what security sources describe as pro-Muslim Brotherhood organisations. 

The self-proclaimed Call of Egypt statement demands “retribution be exacted against all rulers, judges, officers, soldiers, muftis, journalists and politicians proven to have committed crimes” or “taken part, if only through incitement, in the violation of honour, the shedding of innocent blood and the wrongful taking of lives.”

Such people, it continues, “will be judged as murderers in accordance with Islamic law and the provisions applying to murders shall apply.”

Some observers fear the statement may signal a change in tactics among Brotherhood supporters and herald a new wave of violence.

The statement, issued just before the second anniversary of Morsi's ouster and less than two weeks after the former president received a provisional death sentence, insisted that “the Mufti of Egypt is responsible under Sharia and criminal law for the innocent lives of those whose execution he approves.”

“We caution him against the folly of going further in signing his approval to more unjust and tyrannical murder sentences and of the great ills that will result from these sentences at all levels.”

Death sentences against Morsi and 121 other Brotherhood defendants have, as is customary, been referred to the Grand Mufti of Egypt for his non-binding opinion. Though final sentences were scheduled to be announced on 2 June, Cairo Criminal Court delayed its final ruling until 16 June. The presiding judge said the court only received the Mufti's recommendations on the preliminary death sentences on Tuesday morning and needed time to study them.

The Call of Egypt statement insists “the defence by any legitimate means of one's self, honour and property is a legitimate right” and enjoined “the Muslim nation” to exert all “legitimate means in the Religion of God” to liberate and set free “those who have been imprisoned by this regime on the grounds of their rejection of the current regime or of their demand for the respect of the will and freedom of the nation, and all [imprisoned] females in particular.”

The statement concluded by calling on “the forces that oppose the current Egyptian regime to unite in a single rank in the resistance, using all appropriate means such as civil disobedience.”

Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Mohamed Moukhtar Gomaa described the signatories as “criminals against their religion, their nation and the Muslim people.” Their names, he said, should be placed on passport control watch lists and measures “to purge all government institutions of their influence” taken. Gomaa also demanded the International Federation of Muslim Ulema, headed by Youssef Al-Qaradawi, be designated a terrorist organisation.

The office of the Egypt’s Mufti accused the signatories of “incitement against Egypt and its security and judicial institutions.”

A statement issued by the Mufti’s officedenounced “the incitement by persons calling themselves Muslim scholars against the Egyptian system through their call to break and eliminate it, and their fraudulent claim that this serves the higher purposes of Sharia.”

Muslim Brotherhood views of the statement were divided.

Some Brotherhood officials posted a statement on the Internet praising the ulema for expressing their “aversion” to “the crimes” in Egypt, “the latest of which are the death sentences against Mohamed Morsi and hundreds of other innocent Egyptians who rebelled against tyranny.”

The ulema, the statement continued, are performing “their religious duty to explain the truth and issue a fatwa.”

Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Montasser praised the Call of Egypt statement on Twitter, boasting that “this is our religion and these are our ulema.”

Not to be outdone, the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) called for a “revolutionary week” under the slogan “steadfastness is the path to victory.” The week would be part of “the extended wave” of action called “Victory and Retribution.” NASL added that it does not recognise “these trials, verdicts or judges.”

Some Muslim Brotherhood officials rejected the “Call of Egypt”.

Brotherhood official Gamal Abdel-Salam wrote on his Facebook page: “With my due esteem and respect to all, senior or junior, abroad or present [in Egypt], detained or released, and in spite of my desire to avoid engaging in thorny and contentious issues on Facebook, I must declare my total support for the call to peacefulness and aversion to violence, as [violence] is a one way street; once people enter it they cannot leave it. Also, I believe that violence and takfir (condemning others as heretics) are two sides of the same coin.”

A Muslim Brotherhood television channel based in Turkey used its Twitter account to call on Salafist sheikhs Mohamed Hassan and Mohamed Hussein Yaqoub to add their names to the “Call of Egypt” statement.

Alaaeddin Eshri, spokesman for the Dafie or Defend campaign responded that neither of the two sheikhs would support calls for bloodshed. In press statements Eshri said Sheikhs Hassan and Yaqoub reject violence and are committed to seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis facing the Muslim Brotherhood. He noted that Hassan had already rejected a Muslim Brotherhood invitation to travel to Qatar and would similarly reject the Muslim Brotherhood’s invitation to join the Call of Egypt.

Nour Party chairman Younes Makhyoun described the organisations that signed the statement as “unofficial bodies that serve specific interests.”

In an open letter addressed to the signatories Makhyoun wrote: “We have not heard a single word from you about the massacres that the Shia are committing against the Sunnis in Iraq. We have never heard a single word from you about the actions of the Houthis in Yemen.” He added that while Muslims are victims of massacres around the world, from Burma to Iran and elsewhere, the ulema had opted to sign a statement calling for yet more violence.

Osama Hafez, acting chairman of the Shura Council of the Egyptian Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, also condemned the Call of Egypt statement. In his Facebook blog Hafez warned the statement could be seen as encouraging the young and impulsive to kill policemen on the pretext of meting out retribution.

Some analysts fear the statement, by declaring that fighting the current authorities in Egypt is a “religious duty”, will lead to a spike in violence .They predict more bombings and assassination attempts.

Others say the statement probably has tactical aims and is an attempt to pressure the current regime to reduce the sentences being handed down to Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry issued a press release on Monday saying it had uncovered a Muslim Brotherhood cell which was seeking to target vital state institutions, senior army and police personnel and judges. The cell is also accused of spreading false news intended to harm Egyptian interests. According to the Interior Ministry the cell was formed in 2012, during the rule of Mohamed Morsi, and includes leading Brotherhood figures among its members.

Hours after Monday’s press release the Interior Ministry announced that security forces had detained Muslim Brotherhood leaders Mahmoud Ghozlan and Abdel-Rahman Al-Bar.

The Brotherhood condemned the arrests in an online statement.

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