Recent Arrests in Egypt Show Regime’s Failure, Analysts Say
The Egyptian authorities arrested, on Thursday December 14, 2006, several Muslim Brotherhood leaders, among them Khayrat el Shater, the MB Chairman’s second deputy and a host of public figures, including syndicate leaders and university professors, and more than 180 of Al Azhar university students including the secretary general of the Free Student Union, Suhaib Shawkat Al Malt.
Political analysts and observers have criticized the recent wave of arrests, citing the regime’s failure in dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood as a political power, and questioning the reason behind targeting Muslim Brotherhood members, with some being released-as in the case of Dr. Essam el-Erian and Mohamed Mursi- while others are detained.
Ikhwanweb explored the opinions of some of the experts in Egyptian politics on the implications of the recent high profile arrests among members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Dr.Hassan Nafeaa, the head of Political Sciences Department at Cairo University said that the arrests reflect the Egyptian regime’s method in handling the Muslim Brotherhood. He ruled out that the government will change its policy toward the MB, citing the influential status of the group in society and its growing popularity which rates it as the regime’s main rival on the political and social arena.
Although Dr. Nafaa attributed the recent wave of detentions partly to the parade organized by the MB Azhar University students who dressed in militia- like costumes during a recent demonstration; he reiterated that with releasing two of the group leaders, it was expected that the government would launch another campaign against other leaders. Nafeaa added that the regime lacks a clear political vision and knows nothing but security harassment in its treatment with its opposition, mistakenly believing that this way could prolong its stay in power.
On the other hand, Dr. Nafeaa saw the way out of this political stalemate in the unity of opposition political forces, but expressed his pessimism over the distrust prevailing among the opposition and short sighted visions of its leaders.
Both sides are to blame
On his part, assistant director of Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Dr. Waheed Abdul Meguid sees that the recent wave of detentions is a measure taken by the authorities in response to the “ninja- like parade” organized by MB Azhar students, adding that the students’ reaction to the government excesses should not be met with similar excesses, pointing out that this could take the country into a vicious circle of confrontations. However, he criticized the government’s policy of cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood saying that this does not work in favor of the nation. Rather, he warned that such measures will only strengthen the opposition and lead to a growing public sympathy with them. Dr. Abdul Maguid sees the solution lie in engaging political forces to reach a common formula and satisfactory solutions to the nation’s problems.
Dr. Abdul Meguid also criticized the media coverage and the security reaction to the students parade, saying that it was over inflated “What the student did was an outcome of the harassment and persecution they are suffering”, he said, warning that such security crackdown does not only harm a specific party but also mars the reputation of the entire nation in general and the regime in particular. “The regime’s popularity is on the decline inside and abroad, and may come under political pressures from foreign quarters”, he said.
Security measures are not the solution
Dr. Abdul Monem Saeed, director of Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, shares the view expressed by Dr. Abdul Meguid, but added that he rejects solutions through security measures, warning that they could exacerbate the crisis. Dr. Saeed called for using political means in handling the university or student elections in general. While he expressed his dismay over the costumes worn by the students, depicting it as semi military militias; he called on the government to change its way in dealing the Muslim Brotherhood group. He also called on the regime to change its detention- centric policy, pointing out that this way was once associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and then with the Communists, stressing that political realities make it incumbent on the regime to recognize the MB.
Brotherhood crossed the red lines
Dr. Amr el Shobaky, expert of Islamic Group Affairs, sees otherwise. He said that the detentions have no connection with the student parade. Rather, he attributed them to the unchanged Egyptian policy adopted against the Muslim Brotherhood; but he assured that the government is not strong enough to eradicate the MB group, regarding this step as bearing untold results. ” The government is in the habit of releasing a number of MB members, and follows the release with a string of detentions so that a number of MB members are kept behind bars “, Al Shobaky said, adding that this is a way to terrorize the group and even any political trend trying to stand up for the government. He lamented that the government has launched crackdowns on and placed obstacles ahead of all influential political parties which have a popular weight, regardless of their political affiliations, citing Kifaya and al Ghad parties.” These harassments are made only at the whims of the government and the ruling regime” he said.
Regarding the detention of the second MB Chairman in particular, al Shobaky regarded it as an escalation on the part of the regime, adding that this is meant to punish the group for crossing the red lines placed by the regime, citing the Free Student Union and the MB solidarity with the reformist judges in their political battle with the government.
High profile academic and political detainees
Another political expert, Dr. Kadry Saeed, also expresses his rejection of the regime’s use of detentions in its treatment of political activists who are public figures and personalities with high academic and political status. Dr. Saeed described the way of detention as an uncivilized way in dealing with such figures even in the light of the Emergency Law, which he regarded as undemocratic in itself and running counter to the peaceful political action.
Inflated media coverage
In the same context, the secretary general of MB Parliamentary Bloc Dr. Mohammed el Beltagui pointed out that although the students apologized for the parade they organized in Azhar University, some media circles have come to capitalize on the incident by inflated it and used it to mar the image of the group. Dr. Beltagui added that even when the students formed the Free Student Union to be a substitute of the official one which was marred with vote rigging and hooliganism, the students have come under persecution including framed up charges as a pretext on the part of the authorities to dissolve the Union. Beltagui expressed his worries that the authorities could resort to hiring hooligans from outside the university, warning that this could lead to a battle that may claim deaths and injuries, giving the authorities a pretext to take whatever measures they want. Concernong the wisdom of singling out the deputy chairman for this recent detention, al Beltagui asserted that the authorities have long targeted specific figures with remarkable social and political activities to keep them away from public action, although they (the authorities) always fail to prove any charge against those MB leaders.
Mohammed Khairat Saad Al- Shatter
Born in Dakahleya on May 4th 1950
B.Sc. of Civil Engineering, Alexandria University,1974
Master Degree in Construction Management, Mansoura University,1980
B.A from Anthropology Department, Faculty of Arts, Ain Shams University,2002
Islamic Studies diploma, Islamic Studies Institute, 1999
Diploma in Social Work and NGOs, Faculty of Economics and
Political Science, Cairo University, 2000
Diploma in Business Administration, Faculty of Commerce, Ain Shams University, 1998
Diploma in International Marketing, Faculty of Commerce, Helwan
Worked as an administrator in the Faculty of Engineering, Mansoura University from 1974 until 1981
In 1981, late president Sadat suspended him from working in the university
In 1981 onwards he established his own business in different areas and companies
He currently runs his private group of companies, in addition to being a board member in some major banks and companies
Political and Islamic activities
Khairat Al-Shatter started his political activities as early as 1966
When he was a secondary school student
He was a founding member of the general Islamic action in 1967 especially in Alexandria where he played pivotal role in establishing the general Islamic awakening (Sahwa) starting early seventies
He has been a Muslim Brotherhood member since 1974
He took the lead in many Muslim Brotherhoodaffairs, inter alia, Education, Human Development and Management
He was elected member of Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau in 1995
Al- Shatter has been to prison several times during Nasser and Mubarak eras
In 1968 after participation in the famous students demonstrations that followed the 1967 War, he was kept in prison for four months then dismissed from university .Right after he was released, he was drafted into the Army in the Red Sea town, a far –off area from Cairo and Alexandria
In 1992 he was imprisoned for one year in the famous Salsabeel case
In 1995 he was sentenced to five years, along with 54 members of Muslim Brotherhood who were sentenced from three to five years; he was released in July 2000
In 2001 he was imprisoned for almost one year in what was known as Imbaba group, a Muslim Brotherhood meeting
Eng. Al –Shatter has been to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and UK. He has also been to Arab, Asian and European countries
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