• Reports
  • December 27, 2006
  • 6 minutes read

Intelligentsia: Closing Publishing Houses Anti Freedom Step

The recent campaign against publishing houses and members belonging to Muslim Brotherhood has drawn a lot of controversy with the Egyptian intelligentsia, who condemned the campaign launched on Sunday December 24, 2006, which reached out to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Publishing & Printing House, depicting the campaign as an attempt on the part of the regime to cut down to size the growing MB activities in the Egyptian street. The Islamic Publishing& Printing House is a key publisher of most Islamic and intellectual literature and an authority in this area in Egypt and the Muslim world. It has branches in more than fifty states in the Arab and Muslim world, Europe and the US, employing over 300 workers in addition to the main office which alone embraces about 150 workers.

The Campaign synchronizes with Israeli- US Anti Muslim War
Islamist figures and political analysts question the wisdom and timing of this campaign and the position of the group toward this escalation. MB Secretary General Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat says that the recent events are part of the state’s campaign which doesn’t stop at closures or companies and detention of members but it extends to include court-martials and even denying MB members access to jobs and means of livelihood. According to Dr. Ezzat, the campaign targeting jobs and livelihood synchronizes with what he depicted as the ongoing ” Zionist – American scheme”, wondering how the families of workers in these companies will continue their lives while their companies have been closed and thus losing their only income which they get by. ” Why are these crackdowns on the MB although it is a peaceful group since it was founded, and has taken root at the Egyptian , regional and world levels?”, he wondered, attributing this campaign to the haughtiness of the regime which can not stand seeing any other political force in society and lashing out at freedom restricting laws and mushroom of corruption in all state institutions without exception. Dr. Abdul Monem Abul Fotouh, member of MB Executive Bureau, said in his comment on the recent campaign that what is happening is aimed to scare the other oppositionists away from opposing the constitutional amendments concocted by the regime behind the scene. Abul Fotouh depicted these out of sight amendments as a regression from reform and democracy, fearing that these  amendments are meant to revoke judicial supervision on the election and set the scene for a new, but more tough, law on terrorism and restricting public freedoms” In this way the regime consolidates its hold on power and silence those opposing it “, he said, warning that the closure of the moderate Islamic publishing houses will give way to the  extremist ideologies to spill over into the whole region and thus taking the society back to square one.                               
And even Unbiased, Independent figures condemn the campaign

The Muslim Brotherhood leaderships are not the only figures to criticize this campaign, but other political analysts and intelligentsia in society share them the same vision. Prominent Islamic thinker Dr. Mohammed Emara said in a country like Egypt which raises the banner of intellectual and political freedom, any encroachment on the freedom of individuals or thought while giving free rein to freedom of secularism is discrimination against the law and the human rights enshrined in international legislations. Dr. Emara called on the regime to allow equal opportunities before all political and intellectual currents from far rightists to far leftists ” and the fair and unbiased judiciary can decide on any dispute which may arise on the political or intellectual arena”. On the ongoing campaign against the Islamists, Dr. Emara said assuring this helps the Islamic current further put down root in the Egyptian society, citing the consecutive crackdowns against the Islamic current for over sixty years, saying these only strengthened the Islamic current and helped it even overshadow the fragile, state- backed currents. Dr. Emara called on those who use oppressive policies against the Islamic current to take lessons from the history of successive regimes in Egypt with the Islamic movement, and look carefully at the outcome of such an oppressive campaign, calling on the regime to stop double standard policy in handling currents and trends in society. On the reasons for the recent campaign launched by the regime against Muslim Brotherhood, Professor Dr. Saif Abdul Fattah of Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences sees that the regime impatiently seeks any error on the part of Muslim Brotherhood members and exploits it to launch oppressive campaign against the group, citing the individual act on the part of MB students at Azhar University when they staged a militia- like parade in the university, an act which the MB leadership deplored and assured it was done  without its knowledge. The professor pointed out that the regime persists with its oppressive policy against the group even in the area of Islamic studies where the group plays a significant role in spreading awareness among Muslims worldwide in all aspects of life. He warned that the regime will continue to exploit the Azhar University incident to launch more crackdowns on the group and use its agencies to exercise more pressures on its members and institutions.

Egyptian Publishing Union Deplores Closure  
Reactions to the recent campaign against MB companies and institutions echoed in many political and religious circles.” What is happening is aimed to paralyze the movement of Muslim Brotherhood especially that setting up companies take a lot of time and red tape in Egypt and people find difficulties getting publication and printing licenses”, said Secretary General of the Egyptian Publishers Union and the media spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood group Assem Shalabi, who added that the campaign is a reaction on the part of the regime to the outreach of the Muslim Brotherhood publications to most Egyptian families. Shalabi pointed out that the closures included even companies affiliated to prominent members with the Egyptian Publishing Union, including Mr. Hassan Khafagy the treasurer of the Egyptian Publishers Union and a key publishing symbol in Egypt.