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Muslim Brotherhood leader rules out use of violence
Muslim Brotherhood leader rules out use of violence
The leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood opposition group ruled out the use of force against a government crackdown amid accusations that the movement is crying wolf to win sympathy.
Monday, March 17,2008 18:16
Macleans

The leader of Egypt"s Muslim Brotherhood opposition group ruled out the use of force against a government crackdown amid accusations that the movement is crying wolf to win sympathy.

At least 750 members of the Brotherhood, the country"s strongest opposition force, have been rounded up in security sweeps across the country this month ahead of local elections slated for April 8.

"We are facing injustice and tyranny with extreme wisdom and patience," the group"s leader, Mahdi Akif, said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Sunday.

At a press conference a day earlier, Akif had warned against an outbreak of violence resulting from a simmering political crisis - a statement that raised alarm in the country that the movement may resort to violence.

But Akif told dpa that the violence that he warned against was likely to be stirred up by the people.

"The Egyptian people are now experiencing a level of suffering that makes all options possible. Extreme injustice and corruption have reached the highest level," Akif said.

"The people are oppressed, hungry and poor," he added.

The Brotherhood, which was banned in 1954 in the wake of a campaign of assassinations, renounced violence in the 1970s.

Although it is still outlawed, its candidates running as independents won 88 seats in the 454-member parliament in the 2005 legislative election.

"The people are deprived even of bread. Everyday there are protests and strikes because they are suffering. This is their way of expressing themselves," Akif said.

"Muslim Brothers are waiting for God"s victory," he added.

In local elections, 4,500 local city councils are contested but the Brotherhood candidates stand little chance to achieve a repeat of the 2005 surprising victory.

Local elections have acquired new significance after a constitutional amendment in 2005 made presidential candidacy conditional on gaining the endorsements of 250 members of parliament and local councils.

But analysts play down the risk of an outbreak of violence, saying the movement is crying wolf, which is typically the approach it has always used to win people"s sympathy.

"The Muslim Brothers tend to describe any current crisis the country is experiencing as a simmering crisis. A few years ago, unemployment was the issue while the issue now is spiralling prices," said Abel-Moneim Said, a political analyst at the al-Ahram think tank.

The movement knows that it stands to lose in the local election; hence it seeks to stir up a racket, Said said.

The Brotherhood, he argues, wants to appear as a victim to win people"s support.

Another analyst, Salah Issa, played down Akif"s warning of a possible outbreak of violence.

"From its past experience in the use of violence the Brotherhood has learned that the state in Egypt is almost invincible," Issa maintained.

"The Egyptian people favour stability and support the state whenever this stability is at stake," Issa said.

The Brotherhood has between 20,000 and 30,000 members as well as big numbers of sympathizers estimated to be 1 million potential votes, according to Issa.


Posted in Election Coverage , Human Rights  
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