Egypt’s top Islamist expects assassination of liberal figures


A senior member of Egypt’s former militant Islamist group al-Gamaa al-Islamiya has warned that liberal politicians and intellectuals who oppose President Mohammed Mursi’s latest constitutional declaration could face a campaign of targeted assassinations starting from December.

Nageh Ibrahim, the ideologue of the Gamaa al-Islamiya, which took up arms against ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime in the 1980s, told Al Arabiya that his expectation “was based on an analysis of the political situation not on information.”

He said recent escalation of violence in different parts of the country, including successive attacks on security forces in Sinai, attacks on Muslim Brotherhood offices and on mosques, point to a possible bloody reaction against liberals.

Ibrahim first made his statement in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, saying targeted assassinations against prominent liberals would be a “natural reaction” to violence and mistrust, and political polarization in Egypt.

And while he supported President Mursi’s latest decrees to consolidate his powers by making his decisions irrevocable by the judiciary, Ibrahim called for the president to include more civil and liberal figures in his government and take their demands into consideration when making decisions.

“Had the president included representatives of the civil powers in the new government, he would not have had so many enemies,” Ibrahim said.

“This has to be done before Egypt becomes divided, not only politically but possibly geographically as well.”

He warned that if Mursi backtracks on his decisions, the country would plunge further into turmoil.

But his statement on the assassination of liberals drew sharp criticism from his colleague Essam Derbala who is chairman of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya’s Advisory Council and member of the group’s political wing Construction and Development Party.

Derbala described Ibrahim’s statements as “irresponsible” and not representative of the group’s or the party’s opinion.

“This is a very bad timing for issuing such statements,” Derbala was quoted as saying by the Egyptian newspaper al-Mesryoon. “This would promote divisions in the Egyptian society and spread fear of Islamist groups.”

Derbala expressed his doubts that Ibrahim issued those warnings based on factual information and saw them more as mere speculations.

“These are just speculations that reflect his own point of view, but are not official especially that he does not hold any positions now in the group.”

Tarek al-Zomor, leading member of the group, also played down Ibrahim’s statements as mere speculations.

“All the changes in Egypt are made in a peaceful way,” he said. “This is the path Egypt has taken since the January 25 Revolution.”