Grim prospects for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
An estimated 16,000 alleged Brotherhood members are in state custody, even if the Brotherhood puts the number closer to 23,000
With the election of the man who ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, as Egypt’s new president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s short-term prospects in Egypt look grim.
The group which dominated the aftermath of the 2011 revolution has been completely purged from Egyptian political life with no predictable comeback, according to analysts.
“Since the ouster of their leader, the Brotherhood has been removed from the Egyptian political arena in a way that was not seen since [Gamal Abdel] Nasser was in power,” Hala Mustafa, a political science professor at Cairo University told Al Arabiya News.
“With most of their strong men jailed, exiled or hiding, the group lost its main body and will probably not have any role in the country’s political scene anytime soon especially with the arrival of [Abdel Fatah al] Sisi,” she said adding that to improve Egypt’s situation, the strong man needed to stamp out all forms of opposition and terrorism.
An estimated 16,000 alleged Brotherhood members are in state custody, even if the Brotherhood puts the number closer to 23,000. Hundreds more have been sentenced to death.
During his inaugural speech, and in an effort to press the crackdown on the group, Sisi vowed that there will not be any reconciliation with anyone who had "committed crimes" or "adopted violence" against the Egyptian people, clearly referring to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
"Defeating terrorism and achieving security is the top priority in our coming phase," Sisi said during his speech at Quba Palace.
In reaction Sisi’s affirmations, Magdy Qorqor, the Secretary-General of the new Labor Party, a leading member of the Anti-coup alliance said: “Only those who were supportive of the Mubarak regime and the pro-‘coup’ people believe the negative allegations Sisi directed to the Muslim Brotherhood,”
“His claims were only aimed at spreading hatred and a negative image of our group and Mursi,” Qorqor said explaining that Sisi’s main goal was to lend an air of legitimacy and popular approval to the July coup.
The Muslim Brotherhood said it considered the elections that brought Sisi to power ‘wholly null and void.’
As the crackdown deepens day after day, supporters of the Islamist group also started being affected in their everyday lives.
“Brotherhood supporters are facing rejection in the society whether it is at work, in the street or in their social life,” Mahmoud Ahmed, a backer of the Muslim Brotherhood told Al Arabiya News.
An increasing number of brotherhood backers are being excluded from any governmental jobs, Ahmed said adding that some of his friends have been rejected from work interviews after they said they supported the Islamist group.
Meanwhile, it seems that the Muslim Brotherhood is not only let down by Egypt but also by also by international backers.
Some analysts argue that Barack Obama sold the Muslim Brotherhood after Sisi was elected president of Egypt.
“The United States is dealing with reality and they and know the strategic importance of Egypt,” Mustafa said explaining that the United States is willing to let down any government to maintain good ties with the country.
However, on the long-run, the U.S. might start helping the Brotherhood to make its come back in Egypt, the analyst added.
The U.S. said this week it was looking forward to working with Egypt's newly elected president and hoped to advance its strategic partnership with Cairo and the "many interests" the countries shares.
Following the congratulating messages received from the White House al Sherouq newspaper used the headline “Obama turns the Brotherhood page and extends his hand to Sisi."
In April, the United Kingdom ordered an investigation of the Muslim Brotherhood over concerns about its alleged links to violent extremism.
However, some sympathizers of the now-banned group are more optimistic about the status of Brotherhood and believe that Egypt's oldest and best organized Islamist movement, which has been subject to regular government purges for most of its 86-year history,” will remain present in the streets of Egypt and” survive official repression for decades.
“The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies are still present in the streets of Egypt. They are using their right to peacefully protesting for the return of Mursi and democracy,” Qorqor said.
Mursi, who was overthrown less than a year after he came in power, was Egypt’s first freely elected president.
“The group will never completely disappear of the political arena,” he added. “The historic record of the group shows how it managed to survive previous waves of repression and indicates that the latest wave of repression will not be its end,” he added.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and, despite years of repression, remains the largest Islamist movement in the Middle East.
It was declared a terrorist organization in December and was banned from taking part in the country’s presidential and legislative elections.
Sisi was appointed by Mursi as the army chief in August, 2012. But the new president revealed strongly anti-Brotherhood views after deposing Mursi following mass protests against his rule.
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