Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1143, 11 - 17 April 2013
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1143, 11 - 17 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Muslim Brotherhood defends interior minister

The Muslim Brotherhood’s majority in the Shura Council refuses to lay blame for attacks on the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbasiya district, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Al-Ahram Weekly

The dominant majority of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) deputies in the Shura Council teamed up Tuesday to reject dismissing Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim from his position. They even refused to lay blame with Ibrahim for using tear gas against Copts inside the main Orthodox Coptic Cathedral in Cairo’s east district of Abbasiya.

Ahmed Fahmi, chairman of the Shura Council and a leading FJP official, noted: “The Shura Council does not have supervisory powers and is not entitled by the constitution to ask the president of the republic to sack the interior minister or the government of Hisham Kandil as a whole.”

Fahmi’s refusal came after secular and non-Brotherhood deputies joined forces, asking Islamist President Mohamed Morsi to fire Ibrahim and put him on trial.

Coptic MPs accused Ibrahim of moving very slowly to protect the Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiya. Gamil Halim, an appointed Coptic MP, said: “By not ordering Central Security Forces to act quickly to safeguard the Cathedral building, the interior minister gave a free hand to hooligans and bullies to attack it.”

Halim added: “And even after Central Security Forces came too late, they joined mobs rocking stones at the building and used tear gas canons against the Cathedral.” He concluded: “Minister Ibrahim committed an international crime and he must be dismissed from his job, brought to investigation before the prosecutor-general and referred to trial.”

Salah Abdel-Maaboud, an Islamist Salafist MP, said: “The poor performance of the government of Hisham Kandil and its failure to stem the tide of incidents of sectarian strife made it urgent that this government leaves office as soon as possible and appoint a national unity [government in its place].”

Joining forces, Mikhail Hilaslai, a Coptic MP representing the Free Egyptians Party, charged that, “Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was caught red-handed and he committed a terrorist crime.” “Unless this minister is interrogated and prosecuted, Copts will take it that some officials are above the law,” he added.

Coptic MPs criticised a statement issued by the Shura Council’s Brotherhood-dominated Committee of National Security for refusing to ask the president to dismiss the interior minister. Mona Makram Ebeid, an appointed Coptic MP, said: “The committee’s statement is just rhetoric and there must be a clear demand that Ibrahim be sacked from his position.”

For their part, FJP MPs insisted that recent sectarian clashes are part of a conspiracy aimed at toppling President Mohamed Morsi. Gamal Heshmat, a Brotherhood MP, asserted that, “the security forces must strike with an iron fist on all saboteurs who want to drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians and who want to exploit sectarian clashes to unseat the elected president from power.”

Safwat Abdel-Ghani, the representative of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Development and Building Party, accused Copts of igniting the bloody events in Khosous where four Copts and one Muslim died, and around the Abbasiya Cathedral where at least one Copt died.

“Copts must concede that they have very extremist young men and this was clear when they raised slogans against Muslims,” said Abdel-Ghani. According to Abdel-Ghani: “Some extremist Copts said ‘Down with Islam’ and this slogan infuriated young Muslims outside the Cathedral building.”

Shura Council Chairman Fahmi announced that Interior Minister Ibrahim sent him a CD containing a video of the events that took place around the Coptic Cathedral on Sunday. “I suggest that members of the National Security Committee watch this CD and review it in the presence of security officials to determine what took the course of events towards violent clashes,” said Fahmi.

On Tuesday, a coalition of 70 secular and Coptic Shura Council MPs formed what they called “The Front of Civilian Forces under the Dome of Parliament”. They called for “greater coordination” in the coming period “to stand up to the Islamist majority in the Shura Council”. They added they would ask Fahmi to allocate a room for them to meet. “If this demand is rejected,” said Ihab Al-Kharrat, chairman of the Shura Council’s Human Rights Committee and a Coptic MP, “we would hold our meetings in my office near Tahrir Square.”

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