Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1255, (23 - 29 July 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1255, (23 - 29 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

MB violence continues

The Muslim Brotherhood group continued its campaign of violence and intimidation this week to mark the beginning of the Eid, writes Amany Maged

MB violence continues
MB violence continues
Al-Ahram Weekly

This week saw a number of incidents, demonstrations and meetings in which the Muslim Brotherhood was directly or indirectly involved.

The group staged several small demonstrations on the morning of the first day of the Eid marking the end of Ramadan. Most took place in Giza, particularly in the Nahya, Kerdasa and Talbiya districts, and erupted into clashes with the security forces that led to six deaths and ten wounded.

Security sources said that more than 300 Brotherhood members took part in demonstrations on the Pyramids Road and clashed with the security forces using pellet guns and fireworks. They added that there was an exchange of gunfire between the two sides causing a number of deaths and wounded among Brotherhood ranks.

One person died during the clashes in Nahya. According to a security source, about 60 Brotherhood members staged a march in the area, attacking members of the security forces that were stationed next to the Nahya Hospital using pellet guns and cudgels and causing some minor injuries.

Following an exchange of gunfire, the security forces succeeded in dispersing the demonstrators, among whom one died and three were wounded. There were also a number of arrests.

Also on Friday, two explosions occurred near the Radobis Cinema in the Pyramids Road area. A security source stated that a number of Muslim Brotherhood youth members who were taking part in the demonstrations had had bombs, three of which were defused by the security forces while others detonated wounding police recruits in the Talbiya area.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), a pro-Muslim Brotherhood group formed over two years ago, issued a statement following the day’s events declaring that the “demonstrations would continue against the regime.” The Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, an Islamist group, also accused the interior ministry of using “excessive force” to disperse demonstrations staged by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the NASL in Nahya and Talbiya.

“The police dispersed peaceful demonstrations opposed to the regime in a manner that led to the deaths of many victims,” the group said in a statement, adding that the regime had committed “arbitrary killings, repression and the liquidation of its opponents outside the framework of the law.”

The Islamist group also accused the regime of acting in a manner “geared to deepening the wounds of the nation and complicating its crises,” thereby “undermining sincere efforts to resolve the crisis politically.”

Awad al-Hattab, a leader of the Reform Front of the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and a former “emir” of the group in Minya, said that the leaders of the current central council of the group were using every means at their disposal to gain control over its mosques, especially in Minya, Assiout and Sohag in Upper Egypt.

In a statement to the press, al-Hattab urged the ministry of awqaf (religious endowments) and its provincial branches to remain vigilant, especially in the wake of the sermon delivered by Osama Hafez, chairman of the group’s Shura Council, in Minya during the Eid. Hafez had taken advantage of the late arrival of the mosque’s imam to preach from the pulpit, prohibited by the ministry of awqaf on the grounds that he does not possess the required license.  

The Reform Front official stressed that attempts on the part of the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya to reassert its control over the mosque pulpits violated the law, and he called for more intensive inspections of mosques, not just during feast days but also during ordinary days, in order to prevent their use to spread extremist ideas.

In a statement released on the Internet following the deaths of six “opponents of the regime” on the first day of the Eid, the Muslim Brotherhood charged that this was an “act of revenge on the part of the police in response to the deep-rootedness of the Muslim Brotherhood in society and the rallying of the angry masses around it.”

The statement called on “the revolutionaries to defend themselves in the face of assaults against their peaceful demonstrations.” Such self-defence “is a duty established by the law, international conventions, and scripture,” it said.
It vowed to sustain its “peaceful demonstrations and marches” on the grounds that it was committed “to championing the nation, the detainees and legitimacy as symbolised by [former] president Mohammed Morsi… and to championing the demands of the poor, the workers and the peasants and the 25 January Revolution and its legitimate demands.”

While the Brotherhood demonstrations flared, the ousted former president ignored his presence in prison and the sentences passed against him in order to convey his holiday greetings to supporters. A number of messages were attributed to him on Twitter, among them one saying that “every day I spend in this cell increases my faith in the justice of a cause we all carry together, the cause of a revolution that began and that we will complete until its end... Every night I spend here deepens my awareness of the fragility of those midgets and diminishes them further in my eyes.”

In another tweet attributed to Morsi, he says that “our revolution has passed and will continue to pass through the historic junctures of revolutions in the clash between vested interests and men of principle until it attains its appropriate place in the history of nations and peoples.”

“My determination has not weakened, my resolve has not softened, and my confidence in victory remains undimmed,” he added in another impassioned tweet. He concluded with a message of greetings on the occasion of the Eid Al-Fitr in which he told supporters that “your revolution is inviolable and destined for victory” and signed “Mohamed Morsi, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt.”

All the tweets were subsequently reposted on Morsi’s official Facebook page. Curiously, the former president’s Twitter account had also announced that he would deliver an official speech on the eve of the feast to the Egyptian people. The announcement triggered jubilation among his supporters and considerable surprise among others.

If the Muslim Brotherhood’s celebration of the Eid at home can be summed up in a few words, as “demonstrations” and “congratulatory tweets,” the situation abroad is a stranger one and seems to point in the direction of a change in favour of “negotiations” or “reconciliation” with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This was suggested by an important visit by Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal, who lives in Qatar, to Saudi Arabia where he met with King Salman. Analysts described this as an astonishing departure from the policy of the former Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, who had waged a campaign to defeat or eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood and its associated groups in the region.

Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, but according to analysts Salman is ready to work with the Islamists, even of the Muslim Brotherhood stripe, in order to confront Iran. Meshaal’s visit could open the door to reconciliation, they say, as Hamas might ask Riyadh to step in to mediate between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian government.

However, the analysts also noted that a favourable response on the part of the Egyptian government to such a move would be contingent on a fundamental shift in the position of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, which so far has not been forthcoming. In fact, the opposite is the case, and the Muslim Brotherhood position has grown increasingly hardline, hardly favouring efforts at mediation.

In short, if the Meshaal visit is to mark a turning point in the relationship between the Egyptian state and the Muslim Brotherhood, this will necessarily depend on a total and unequivocal rejection of violence on the part of the Brotherhood and its supporters.

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