Egypt’s crackdown on the MB
Monday, February 12,2007 00:00
By Abu Aardvark, Abuaardvark

The Egyptian government continues to escalate its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood.
 Over the last couple of months it has arrested a lot of suspected Brotherhood members, and Mubarak and NDP officials have lambasted the Brotherhood as a threat to the country and brushed aside its idea of forming a legitimate political party.
 The government has escalated with a campaign against the movement’s economic infrastructure by seizing their property and shuttering businesses.
 The other day the government escalated even further by arresting 16 senior members of the movement, including its deputy guide Khayrat al-Shatr, and is now set to try them in the notorious state security court.
 It all makes me think about remarks I heard from a number of people in Egypt in a position to know, who I won’t identify further, to this effect: 
 while the Muslim Brotherhood won’t turn to violence itself, MB advocates of peaceful participation in the political system are having a harder and harder time convincing young activists to stick to the program. 
 Young activists see little to show for the Brotherhood’s participation in the Parliamentary elections, and have seen their decision to play the rules of the democratic game rewarded with a viscious governmental campaign of repression. 
 As with Hamas and the Palestinian elections, it is common now to hear that the Muslim Brotherhood decided to give the US a chance to prove it was serious about promoting democracy, and that now it has its answer: 
 no.  That answer is likely to shape the calculations of would be islamist democrats all over the region for many years to come. 
 The really alarming part, though.  It seems almost inevitable to more and more well-informed people (and to me) that there is going to be a violent backlash against this repressive campaign, whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood leadership wants to unleash one. 
 There’s a sense that the regime will just keep on pushing and pushing, despite all warnings to that effect. 
 And the cynic in me (and not just in me) thinks that the Mubarak regime wants that violence as retroactive justification for its campaign, and as justification for an even more direct assault on the Brotherhood.
 It’s all playing with fire, and it’s very depressing .

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