-Dr. Zahran: The case is a prominent event in the political scene in 2007.
-Tarek Ismail: The case showed Egyptian public opinion"s love to the Muslim Brotherhood, increased its popularity.
-Hashem Rabie: Ikhwanonline.com spring has played a key role in exposing the Egyptian regime"s double standard policy.
Dec, 14th, 2006 was a watershed day in the Egyptian political life, a day which may be as important as Sep, 11th, 2001 attacks. On this day, about 40 Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested against the backdrop of the athletic show performed by Muslim Brotherhood students in Al-Azhar University on Oct, 12th, 2006, a show that triggered a political quake in Egypt on all levels, topped by referring the detained MB leaders to the military justice even after they received 4 civil justice rulings of acquitting them and clearing them of all charges against them including money laundry, seeking to topple regime and other repeated charges that the security services used to direct to the group members. They were referred to the military justice giving a deaf ear to the historical ruling issued by the Administrative Court of rejecting president Mubarak"s decree- as a military governor- of transferring the Muslim Brotherhood leaders to the Military Tribunal.
Regardless of the details and on the occasion of the first anniversary of this unfair case, many questions still pose themselves on the political arena, including: How far has this case affected the political scene and the political map in Egypt?, How has the political elite reacted to it?. What"s its impact on the course of the case?, in addition to several other questions to be answered by political experts in Egypt :
Dr. Gamal Zahran- a professor of political sciences and spokesman of the independent MPs bloc in the People"s Assembly- said that the trial of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders is a part of settling political scores against the group and an attempt to sideline the Muslim Brotherhood from any political or social action to end any possible MB strong presence in the municipal elections.
Zahran confirmed the rejection of the independents MPs bloc to the policy adopted by the Egyptian regime, of eliminating political critics, specially that political multiplicity and raising the slogan of party multiplicity impose approving the other. He calls on the Egyptian regime to bring to a halt the blockade imposed on political opposition, topped by the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Zahran pointed out that the case (of the military tribunal against MB leaders) was on the spotlight in the Egyptian political scene throughout 2007. The regime gave it due attention. This made the military trial against the Muslim Brotherhood leaders gain a huge public interest. Zahran noted also that all sections of the Egyptian society reject this military trial in addition to rejecting referring civilians to a military trial because civilians should stand trial only before competent and natural justice. "We reject the military tribunals because the competent and natural justice is the only means before which people can stand trial", said he.
Asked about the Military Tribunal"s last ruling of dropping the terrorism and money laundry charges and making the charge only " belonging to an outlawed group", Zahran only described the tribunal as internationally and domestically condemned and rejected regardless of its rulings.
Dr. Tarek Ismail- a professor of political sciences at Cairo University- sees that the regime follows the policy of compromises. It takes a step forward and takes two steps backward in its treatment with the Muslim Brotherhood, pointing out that the military trial against the Muslim Brotherhood leaders increased the group"s popularity in the Egyptian street and added to people"s sympathy with this group and its detained leaders.
Ismail confirmed that the last constitutional amendments mainly aimed to tighten the grip on the Muslim Brotherhood. These amendments prevented-among other elements-the group from winning any seat in the last Shura Council elections although the group fielded a few candidates.
The professor of political science said that there is a wrong view among dome leaders in the regime wings, that throwing MB members and leaders in prisons and sending them to trials may curb the Muslim Brotherhood"s rise in the street. However, this actually backfired and on the contrary, the group"s popularity soared high. He also criticized the so called double standard policy in the dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in a manner similar to a cartoon strip. While the regime allowed intellectual reviews for the Jihad group, it didn"t give this chance to the Muslim Brotherhood although the MB attitude is moderate, that it renounces violence and that it hasn"t been involved or proven to be involved in any case of violence for dozens of years. The regime exercises and accepts intellectual reviews of the Jihad group but it doesn"t do so with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is actually a political schizophrenia in the regime"s mind set, said Ismail.
Ismail added that- regardless of reports of the world"s right organizations over the military case against the Muslim Brotherhood, it can be said that the Muslim Brotherhood detainees get out of prison more more stabile. He cited famous examples topped by the current MB chairman who was sentenced to death but he was released and became stronger, and also those who faced a military trial in 1995 and were sentenced to 3 years in prison. They became- after they were released- better than before. Thus, the regime"s past experience in arresting MB leaders proved to be a mistake and it even backfired.
Dr. Amr Hashem Rabie- a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for political and strategic studies- that the Military Tribunals still have their main features although their law was amended. For example, there is no appeal, measure are quickly taken, sessions are held behind closed doors and are often secret, the military judges are sometimes not specialized or are not experts because they are only officers who studied law. He pointed out that all these reasons undermine the credibility and position of this tribunal whose rulings are generally and often deemed unjust and are actually steered by the executive authority because it pertains to the Ministry of Defense.
Rabie confirmed that the military case against the Muslim Brotherhood leaders was considerably present throughout 2007, because the Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest opposition force in the Egyptian street. The group exposed this case through its official site Ikhwanonline.com that played a big role in this field, in addition to the coverage of other media outlets including satellite TV channels and state run and opposition newspapers. It held seminars, lectures and conferences. This military trial was even present in the government hunting of the group"s activists. The group has always been focusing on the 40 MB leaders in the military case despite other detentions in its lines.
A Double Standard Policy
Around the double standard policy adopted by the regime against the Muslim Brotherhood while it (the regime) is tolerant with other powers, the regime has recently approved reviews of the Islamic group. He noted that the Islamic group has a limited number of members, it is labeled as pro-violence, its reviews are taking a dramatic shift from ultra right to ultra left. It also adopts the military action. As for the Muslim Brotherhood, it is a group that enjoys a wide popularity; its reviews are so slight and are not radical. Its reviews are mainly tactical, not religious. It has never been involved in any act of violence because its filed of action is the political- not the military- field.
Finally, Hashem Rabie pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood"s problem is that it is the biggest challenge in front of the regime. Other groups use violence and face violence from the regime, while the Muslim Brotherhood is so deep-rooted in the political work and is consequently posing a big source of trouble for the regime. Also, the regime"s image abroad is related to policies of hunting politicians, suppressing freedom and other aggressions exercised against critics in the Egyptian political street, topped by MB members and leaders.