Egypt’s Military-Backed Rulers Brand Muslim Brotherhood ‘Terrorist’ and Extend Crackdown

A number of bomb attacks mark a new dark phase in Egypt, where the military-backed government has deepened its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, labeling the Islamist organization a terrorist group

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Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

A policeman stands guard at the scene of a bomb blast that damaged a bus near al-Azhar University's campus in Cairo on Dec. 26, 2013

The bus stood empty, most of its windows shattered, the result of a roadside bomb that exploded in Cairo on Thursday morning and injured five people. Police closed the road in both directions, and small crowds of onlookers gathered along the cordons. An officer presented to the crowds a bowl-shaped device, a second bomb, they said, discovered inside a roadside advertising box. Students carrying books, coming from the Islamic al-Azhar University, paused as they walked past.

The blast was the second in Egypt in three days. Fifteen people were killed in a much larger explosion, a suicide car bombing, according to the Interior Ministry, at a police headquarters in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura early on Tuesday. In response to the Mansoura bombing, the military-backed government officially branded the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, a measure that deepens the military-backed government’s clampdown on the Islamist group following the military’s removal of Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi from power in July. The new designation criminalizes membership in the organization and its activities and finances.

No evidence has surfaced linking the Muslim Brotherhood to either attack. The Brotherhood’s official media organs condemned the Mansoura bombing, and a separate group, Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for it. Nevertheless the government appears determined to use the violence as an opportunity to pursue its crackdown on the organization. “From [the security establishment's] perspective, they see this as an opportunity to eradicate, once and for all, an organization that they hate. That takes precedence over everything else,” says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.

Morsi was removed by the military in July following vast protests against his rule. In the months following the coup, more than a thousand people died in a security crackdown on protests against Morsi’s removal. The new terrorist designation could shutter hundreds of Brotherhood-affiliated charities and could also drive members of the organization further underground, but it is unlikely to completely eliminate the Brotherhood as a social movement. On Wednesday night, one Cairo-area member of the Brotherhood, who asked not to be named over concern for his safety, said he met with other members of the group following the declaration. “What will the government do after this decision? Arrest? They already arrest us. Kill? They already kill us,” he said.

(MORE: How Egypt’s General al-Sisi Won TIME’s Person of the Year Poll)

Despite the current clampdown, Brookings’ Hamid argues, the Brotherhood is steeped in an “organizational ethos of not resorting to violence” owing in part to its experience of brutal repression for years under the regime of late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. “But in a situation in which the leadership is decapitated and people aren’t getting clear orders,” he says, “you might have individuals who are going their own way because you lose the superstructure of the Brotherhood as an organization.”

In recent weeks the military-led government has also extended the clampdown to include non-Islamist opposition groups who carry the torch of the January 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. On Sunday a court sentenced three prominent activists who helped spearhead the 2011 revolt to three years in prison for violating a new law that criminalizes all street protests that take place without explicit government permission. The three, Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohammed Adel, founders of the April 6 youth movement, declared a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest of the conditions of their detention. Their winter clothes, they said through an intermediary, had been taken away, with no replacement, by guards who said the garments were the wrong color.

Everywhere in Egypt, the raucous, unpredictable space for political expression opened by the 2011 revolution appears to be shrinking. The government asserts that the clampdown on the Brotherhood and restrictions on protest are needed in order to restore the security needed to proceed with a “road map” for political transition. The next step on the road map is a referendum, scheduled for mid-January, on a new constitution drafted in the wake of the coup. Fatigued after nearly three years of periodic unrest and distrusting of the Brotherhood after Morsi’s presidency, a vocal portion of the public backs the government, though some of last summer’s militaristic fervor has faded. In a sign of persisting sectarianism, the Brotherhood released a statement on its official website that in part faulted the Coptic Church, which backed Morsi’s removal, for the government crackdown.

Thursday’s roadside bombing proved for some that the insurgent activity common in the Sinai is taking root in mainland Egypt — a sign that the country as a whole is sliding deeper into a spiral of repression and violence. Some experts suggest that a violent showdown suits the designs of hard-liners within Egypt’s security state. “It is obvious that there is a faction within this government that is pushing everything toward escalation and violence in order to force their opponents to resort to violence,” says Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. He argues that the government’s real aim with the terrorist designation is to stamp out the “culture of protest” that flourished in 2011. “This regime is trying to tame a revolution,” he says.

MORE: Egypt’s New Protest Law May Spark Another Crisis

5 comments
AbdulazizAshrey
AbdulazizAshrey

Mania of power with defense minister "sisi"  , and his passion for sunglasses .. Will claim the country into a quagmire of violence ,

azmalhome
azmalhome

The world’s most popular the word is Islamic-terrorist to everybody nowadays, this word helps to attracting people to come near any headline. And the violence is easiest matter to creating for a good business way. All of superpower countries have a first choice is to growing the weapon. Trading with weapon has become most profitable thing for all the time in the world, For that the world’s leaders are getting more attention to growing miracle technology weapon than cultivating food. The world is not any war then who will buy this weapon from superpower countries. Mostly war creates from the violence in a country nowadays. If the violence is not into a country then they will become developing country someday and must try to make the weapon by own technology.  http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/islamic-terrorism/

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

Until the Muslim world shuns violence as a means to settle issues, this mayhem will continue. Shias and Sunnis are killing thousands because each side believes they are more righteous. The new regime in Egypt wants to ban MB, hoping that the problem will go away. All this stems from deep routed hatred for a difference of opinion. This whole 'winner takes all' model has ruined the whole region and the Kings are fearing their own turn in the Gulf region. The new rulers of Egypt should try a different approach, i.e a Gandhian approach and allow plurality, dissent and the right to free speech. Very soon the MB will be sidelined, if they continue in their ways. But such a change is hard to expect in a region where over hundred thousand people have been killed through Muslim on Muslim savagery in Syria. Add to this the whole scale killings in Iraq, Pakistan.Yemen etc, one wonders when sanity will prevail

CairoCrocodile
CairoCrocodile

It would be nice if you also represented the opinion of most Egyptians. The Brotherhood and the terrorist groups are all one and the same. Just because they condemned the bombings publicly via their English twitter account, doesn't mean they were not responsible for it.

Lying comes very naturally to the MB and it's a shame to see Time just take their word for granted. And yes, Shady Hamid has always been a mouthpiece of the brotherhood.

In any case, Egyptians don't expect the west to help us get rid of Islamic Fascism, just stay out of our way, we're doing it whether you like it or not and you can thank us in a few decades when you finally understand.

TutAnkhAmon
TutAnkhAmon

The author is referring/quoting Shadi Hamid who's a notorious Muslim Brothers member And who's working and living out of Qatar (the MB main supporter).

The Muslim Brothers's chief theorist Sayyed Qutb is the founding and spiritual father of ALL terrorist groups around the world.