Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1208, (7 - 13 August 2014)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1208, (7 - 13 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Islamists seek to capitalise on Gaza tragedy

Amany Maged asks whether the Muslim Brotherhood can mobilise support ahead of the first anniversary of the violent break-up of two pro-Morsi sit-ins

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Calls by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) for a “Retribution Uprising” on 14 August - the first anniversary of the dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square sit-ins - were immediately met with counter demands, mainly from Brotherhood dissidents, for NASL members to attend a dialogue, to be held on 9 August, which will promote national unity.

In an attempt to drum up momentum ahead of the “uprising” the Muslim Brotherhood and NASL have called on supporters to intensify demonstrations ahead of 14 August. On Friday, as part of this campaign, they announced a rally in support of Palestinians to be held under the banner “Resistance is Hope”.
“[We] have initiated a revolutionary week – Resistance is Hope – as part of the campaign to mobilise for the Retribution Uprising and in support the Palestinian people,” said NASL in a press release.

The statement added that “popular resistance” is making progress towards “overthrowing the coup” and acknowledged “pacifism as the only option for action”.
The Salafist Front has called on its members to participate in events organised by NASL ahead of the “sweeping wave” of demonstrations set for 14 August, “the day of retribution and faithfulness to the martyrs”.

The stress placed on peaceful protest is not shared by all NASL members. Some alliance leaders have called for the creation of brigades – to be named after the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder Hassan Al-Banna - to confront security forces on 14 August. They argue that the anniversary of the bloody dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins represents a last opportunity to unseat the current regime.

Mahmoud Fathy, the Fadila (Virtue) Party head who fled Egypt in the wake of Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, has urged the overthrown president’s supporters to abandon non-violence. On his Facebook account he criticised “pacifist voices in NASL” and urged members to confront security forces.

Leading member of the Hazemoon movement Abdel-Rahman Ezz, who also fled Egypt following Morsi’s overthrow, argued the commemoration of the breakup of the Muslim Brotherhoods sit-ins should be marked by the creation of paramilitary groups along the lines of Hamas’s Ezz Al-Din Qassam brigades. In a message from Qatar, broadcast on pro-Muslim Brother websites, Ezz said such brigades would serve as the Brotherhood’s military wing in Egypt while also including members from “all political and Islamist movements opposed to the regime in Egypt”.

The increasing stridency among some NASL leaders, coupled with the Brotherhood’s continued rejection of any political solution, may be indicative of growing rifts within the alliance.

Radi Sharara of the Watan Party, a member of the pro-Brotherhood alliance, complains Muslim Brotherhood leaders “call for revolution and demonstrations in order to appeal to their youth cadres but do so in the absence of any concrete plans”.

In a statement issued earlier this week Sharara said the Muslim Brotherhood had yet to move beyond a carrot and stick approach. “If you are obedient and follow their orders they will shower attention on you and praise you in their media. But air a criticism or reveal an error and they will attack and slander you just as they attacked Emad Abdel Ghafour, Sheikh Aboud Al-Zomor, Dr Bassem Khafagi, Mamdouh Ismail, and Dr Yusri Hamada.”  

Sharara went on to directly address the Muslim Brotherhood: “The fact that you are the largest group in the alliance does not give you the right to decide everything alone.” He noted that the Brotherhood is “dictatorial when taking important decisions in the alliance but then claims all alliance members agree, which is not true”.

“After twelve months,” Sharara concluded, “you [the Brotherhood] should be questioning your actions over and over again.”

Some NASL sources claim “outside elements” are trying to sow divisions within the alliance and the call for a national dialogue between Islamist parties and dissident Muslim Brotherhood youth groups are part of this campaign.

A coalition of breakaway Muslim Brotherhood youth groups has appealed to all member parties of NASL to attend the 9 August “national dialogue” – first proposed by Cairo University  professor of political science Hassan Nafaa - “to discuss the current crisis in Egypt and to study possible ways to national reconciliation”.

Amr Emara, a dissident Muslim Brother, says that if the meeting succeeds the participants plan to release a document declaring their rejection of violence. They will then call on non-Islamist forces to appeal to the government to respond to any demands that emerge from the dialogue. Emara believes that, faced with a unified opposition, the government’s response will be favourable.

Nafaa’s initiative envisages a “council of wise men” to steer the process of reconciliation. The council’s decisions will be binding on all parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, to demonstrate respect for the judiciary, will be expected to recognise rulings issued against any of its members found guilty of committing “crime against the nation” and to sign a document clearly renouncing violence. In return the Muslim Brotherhood will be guaranteed the right to freedom of expression and opinion within the perimeters set by the constitution and the law. The government would commit itself to implementing the recommendations of the National Council for Human Rights, including calls for the victims of violence in the post-30 June 2013 period - including those injured in the breakup of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square sit-ins – to be offered compensation.

NASL members have so far shown little interest in Nafaa’s initiative. They seem determined to continue demonstrating, hoping, perhaps, that the support of the Salafist Front and its base of young members will swell the dwindling numbers of those willing to take to the streets.

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