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Head of Egyptian Commerce joins Egypt’s ‘terror campaign’

A leader of Egypt’s National Chamber of Commerce has joined the political and military attacks against the Muslim Brotherhood by labelling it a terrorist organisation.

Ahmed El-Wakil, President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), adopted unusually strong language in calling the Muslim Brotherhood protests “a proactive [and] intentional terrorist activity” that follows a “pre-set set of violent goals”.

He then went even further, likening the Brotherhood’s civil protests to the armed activities of a range groups, including the Irish Republican Army, Al Qaeda, Baader Meinhof in Germany, the Armed Islamic Group in France and the Palestinian Black September group. The latter was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes and officials during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“What Egypt is witnessing today is a series of targeted [and] organised acts of armed terrorism that is [being] set loose on the peaceful people of Egypt,” Mr. Wakil said, adding that the Muslim Brotherhood was trying to “reverse our way of life” by burning churches and destroying public buildings.

Mr. Wakil called on foreign national chambers of commerce to “mediate” this message to their governments.

The Muslim Brotherhood is known for having many economically successful members, such as former deputy supreme guide Khairat Al-Shater and the prominent businessman Hassan Malek, as well as a free market, hands-off approach to economic management.

The FEDCOC position clearly signals to both domestic businesses and external companies that any association with the Muslim Brotherhood will not be tolerated under the interim government. However Brotherhood members are already included among the four million business owners the FEDCOC says it speaks for, as well as Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored organisations such as the Egyptian Business Development Association (EBDA).

The EBDA spokesman was not available to comment, but the organisation confirmed that its founder, Mr. Malek, was still the chairman of the organisation’s board. EBDA was set up to increase investment in Egypt and to support small-to-medium enterprises wanting to grow.

The FEDCOC’s stance threatens its own members’ interests, as well as the country’s relationship with other nations in the region, such as Qatar, a known supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Secretary General of FEDCOC Alaa Ezz explained that it was during Mohamed Morsi’s presidency that Qatar started a new trend of delivering aid in kind – such as petroleum shipments as well as cash gifts.

This trend has now been taken up by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE as their US$12 billion packages include gifts of petroleum products as well as interest-free loans and donations.

Mr. Ezz said the Qatari donations would continue because they were “from the people of Qatar to the people of Egypt,” thus all five free gas shipments had either arrived or were already on route to Egypt.

However, Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company chairman Taheer Abdel Raheem told the Wall Street Journal last week that talks with Qatar over the delivery of 13 additional gas shipments, which Egypt had been negotiating since April, were frozen due to the recent instability over the ousting of President Morsi.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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