In Egypt, the interim appointed government of Prime Minister Hazem Biblawi, backed by the military junta that made the coup of July 3, on Wednesday formally categorized the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The decree was published by the feared Interior Ministry (kind of like US FBI but with torture) on its Facebook page.
It was a startling further turnaround in the fortunes of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna as a form of political Islam (injecting religion into politics). After being semi-banned during the presidency of Hosni Mubarak (r. 1981-2011), the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party was recognized as legitimate. It won the parliamentary elections of late fall 2011 and in June of 2012 its standard-bearer, Muhammad Morsi, won the presidency. After a year in office, Morsi’s heavy-handed and sectarian ruling style and a shrinking economy had turned millions of Egyptians away from him. In late June massive public demonstrations demanded that he stand for a recall election. On July 3, the powerful Egyptian officer corps intervened to place Morsi under arrest and to conduct a nationalist coup against Brotherhood rule. In the aftermath, 2000 high Brotherhood officials were arrested, and major sit-ins were cleared by main force, leaving about 1,000 dead (thought that number includes some police shot dead by Brotherhood snipers).
In the six months since late June, the Brotherhood has gone in Egyptian law from a legitimate party that won free and fair elections to a mere terrorist plot.
Al-Shorouk Online reports in Arabic that Muslim Brotherhood “activity” is now prohibited as ipso facto a form of terrorism. That is, if Muslim Brotherhood women hold a coffee klatch and discuss worship, they are now engaging in terrorism. It is also terrorism to preach in favor of the organization orally or in writing or any other medium, and it is terrorism to donate funds to the organization.
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Continuing to assert that you belong to the Muslim Brotherhood after today makes you a terrorist. The Egyptian government has conveyed its decision to other Arab nations that signed the 1998 anti-terrorism convention.
The armed forces and the police have been charged with with protecting universities and guaranteeing that students will not be safe from the terrorism of this group, and that public edifices are secure.
The decree justified this Draconian step with reference to the blowing up of the security directorate in the provincial city of Mansoura, which killed some 14 persons and wounded 140, some of them high-ranking police or domestic security officials. Yet the placing of the Brotherhood in the category of terrorist organization was carried out, al-Shorouk notes, before any formal inquiry into the Mansoura bombing and before there was clear evidence of Brotherhood involvement.
Muslim Brotherhood activists, undeterred, announced that they would publicly demonstrate on Friday without a permit against the decree, under the rubric of “The coup is terrorism.”
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