Egypt accuses Brotherhood of planning attack
|Sunday, February 14,2010 10:06|
The Muslim Brotherhood, in a statement to Bikya Masr, asserted this is “unfounded” and that the group “maintains its peaceful ideology and democratic principles.”
But, the government is not so sure. According to the Brotherhood’s top lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud, the government is accusing the group of attempting to set up training camps in an effort to use violence to topple the government in Egypt.
“These are ridiculous charges,” Abdel Maksoud began. “We have seen this many times in the past and the courts have all ascertained there is no foundation for these accusations.”
The group’s top deputy, Mahmoud Ezzat, Executive Bureau and spokesman Essam al-Erian and Executive Bureau Abdul Rahman al-Bir were arrested by Egyptian security forces in yet another pre-dawn raid on their homes.
The Egyptian ministry of interior said the men were arrested for alleged “illegal activities.” Although officially banned since 1954 – after the government accused the group of attempting to assassinate late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Alexandria – the Islamic group has had a rennaiscance of some sort in recent years, after garnering nearly one-fifth of Parliamentary seats in the 2005 elections. The MPs are technically independents, but are open about their affiliation with the Brotherhood.
State security has also accused the leaders of establishing a side group aligned with the thinking of former Brotherhood leader, Sayyed Qutb, who was executed in the 1960s and whose ideas have inspired militants, although his place within the Brotherhood is controversial. A number of members have continually said that Qutb’s writings have been misused by some Islamic militants to foment violence.
“We are not a violent group and our leaders, throughout history, have condemned all violence supposedly practiced in our name,” said Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a member of the group’s leadership and known as a reformer.
The group espouses a combination of Islamic law with democracy and has become one of the leading voices of pro-democratic reform in the country. Although many analysts argue the group demands a strict Islamic state, Brotherhood officials, especially the younger generation of reform-minded bloggers, have said they prefer a more Turkish-styled democracy.
“The Muslim Brotherhood advocates an Islamic state in Egypt, implementing Islamic law, however, in moderation by becoming a party and promoting Islamic values in a democratic system,” the group told Bikya Masr in a written statement Tuesday.
The group blamed its support of Gaza for the latest crackdown. They said in a statement posted on its official website that their “constant support to the resistance of the besieged people of Gaza and to undermine participation by the group ahead of legislative elections later this year” is the main reason for the leaders’ arrests.
Amnesty International on Monday called on Egyptian authorities “to stop their crackdown on peaceful political dissent and uphold the rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly.”
In an interview last year after Erian was barred from traveling outside the country, he told Bikya Masr that all leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood “do not fear being jailed,” saying this is “part of the duties we have as members of the group.”
In recent months, the Brotherhood had been making headlines after reports of a possible schism within the movement was rapidly approaching, but leading members told Bikya Masr “this is simply not true.”
Former Chairman Mohamed Mahdi Akef said that “we have internal discussions and just because we disagree does not mean we are going to break up.”