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Egypt Keeps Muslim Brotherhood In Check
The following article provides a fair and balanced assessment of the reasons behind the current government’s crackdown against opposition led by the MB. The article sheds more light this time on a different angle of the government’s rationale behind this harsh security offensive which is, according to the article, the fear by th
Saturday, March 3,2007 00:00
by Le Figaro

The following article provides a fair and balanced assessment of the reasons behind the current government’s crackdown against opposition led by the MB. The article sheds more light this time on a different angle of the government’s rationale behind this harsh security offensive which is, according to the article, the fear by the Egyptian government of a possible "warm up" between the West and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Without a doubt, the MB has succeeded considerably to eliminate some Western concerns about its commitment to democracy and its ability to responsibly engage in international affairs. The Egyptian government is in denial and it must accept the MB as political partner and stop and its oppressive measures against opposition and respect the will of the people who voted for change and reform in 2005 parliamentary elections. . . . Ikhwanweb


Egypt Keeps Muslim Brotherhood In Check

Launching waves of arrests, transferring MB leaders to a military tribunal, freezing assets: the Egyptian government has launched, during the last weeks, a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, its prominent outlawed but tolerated political rival, which garnered a fifth of the parliament seats during 2005 legislative elections. To justify this crackdown, Hosni Mubarak’s regime used a parade of martial arts performed last December by Islamic students at Al-Azhar university, as proof, according to him, that the Muslim Motherhood seeks to form a paramilitary militia, although it officially renounced violence thirty years ago.
 
 
Last month, president Mubarak described the Muslim Brotherhood as “a threat to national security”, echoing his Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, who said last year “that 911 attacks emerged from it”. “Islamic moderates don’t exist”, added the minister, in an implicit warning to the United States and the European Union, which planned to hold contacts with the Islamic movement after its electoral win.
 
 
“What the regime fears over all, is that the West recognizes the Muslim Brotherhood”, said Alain Roussillon, the director of the French Research Institute, CNRS in Cairo. “The government wants to prevent the group from bearing the fruits of its electoral results through gaining a double legitimacy, a one through the ballot boxes and the other from abroad.”

For Alain Roussillon, it is not strange that the previous transfer of Muslim Brotherhood leaders to a military tribunal dates back to 1995, during which the United States was already, out of pragmatic targets, seeking a dialogue with the moderate Islamic movements.
 
 
This (1995) dialogue resembles that of the time being. While a delegation of European Members of Parliament (EMPs) met last November an Islamic Member of Parliament, no formal contact took place with Washington, despite the contradictory declarations. “The Muslim Brotherhood is wary, because it understands that this is a red line which is beyond its capacity”, Alain Roussillon said. A possible closeness with the West is, however, not the only thing beyond its capacity, there is also engaging in reforming the Constitution and setting conditions for running for the presidential elections.
 
 
The opposition, topped by the Muslim Brotherhood, accuses the regime of blocking the election process to prepare for a transfer of power from Hosni Mubarak, 78 years, to his younger son, Gamal, 43 years. “The negotiations are opened, and the position of the Muslim Brotherhood over the transfer of power isn’t defined, and it is not impossible that it seals an agreement with the regime”, says Alain Roussillon.
 
 
Increasingly confused Egyptian press
 
In 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood made it clear that it wouldn’t accept the Tawreeth (transfer of power) in return for its legalization. But this assumption may be categorically excluded and last December, Hosni Mubarak reiterated his rejection to forming parties on a religious basis. The Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdi Akef, responded to him at once by revealing a project for forming a new party which is open to non-Muslims, but it has an Islamic source of authority. 
 
 
The available response was severe: the security services doubled crackdowns, targeting for the first time economic enterprises. Last month, assets of 29 businessmen, including the third-in-command in the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat el-Shater, were frozen, and Islamic leaders were transferred to the military justice, under the emergency law, for “money laundry and for funding an outlawed movement”. While waiting for their lawsuit, Cairo Criminal Court rejected yesterday an appeal against freezing the assets. According to experts, finances of the brotherhood therefore are not threatened, because they rest largely on the contributions of the members. But the public warning is clear.
 
 
This escalation makes the Egyptian press increasingly perplexed. Thus, the independent daily Al-Masri Al-Yom attacked the latest reaction of the regime. “The Muslim Brotherhood has won it, because every tough action against the opposition, particularly when it is based on allegations, only cement its popularity”, says the newspaper. More significantly, the columnist at the state-run Al-Ahram, Salama Ahmed Salama, denounces resorting to military tribunals, where there are no defense rights, and the rulings can’t be challenged or appealed. “To exaggerate the panic from the Islamic movement instead of facing it politically (...) obstructing the progress towards democracy and causing more extremism”, criticizes the columnist. “The risk, is that the situation becomes out of control and the Muslim Brotherhood, and turns into a violent confrontation”, warns, for his part, the political economist Amr Choubaki. “The Muslim Brotherhood knows that the regime wants to lead it to commit mistakes. For the moment, it keeps control over its affiliates, particularly young people. But for how long?”.
 
 
*This article is translated from the French Le Figaro published on March, 1, 2007

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