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Al-Sisi's Egypt re-defines terrorism

January 27, 2014 at 9:48 am

If the recent decision by General Al-Sisi’s coup regime regarding the status of the Muslim Brotherhood says anything about the situation in Egypt, it would be that the continuing opposition to the coup has been much larger than the General and his allies had expected, and that there is not any hope of Egypt’s transition to democracy under the current regime and the violent mentality that dominates it.

The Egyptian regime has made the decision to consider the MB (which, as a reminder, has won all elections in Egypt after the January 2011 revolution) a “terrorist organisation” against the backdrop of recent terrorist bombings in Mansoura in northern Egypt. Twenty four hours hardly passed after the bombings when Mrs Sekina Fouad, an advisor to Al-Sisi’s appointed president Adly Mansour and who participated in the coup on 3 July and has played an active role ever since in promoting hate speech that ultimately incited Egyptians to commit violence against their fellow citizens, stated that the regime had evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for the bombings. However, the fact of the matter is that many official and private newspapers had already paved the way to this decision over the last few weeks, when it had become evident that neither the MB nor other Egyptians who reject the coup (the latter which may outnumber the MB by now) would give up to the status quo that the Egyptian junta and its civilian allies have imposed on the Egyptian people. The regime had likely thought that the daily protests would fade away over time. This, obviously, has not happened despite the security forces committing several carnages since July and the daily detention of Egyptians, including some who were actually outspoken against President Mohammed Morsi. In fact, journalists who have supported the coup have repeatedly warned the regime that their reckless use of excessive violence and the crackdown on political activities and the media would only increase public sympathy with the MB.

Despite these warnings, the violence of the coup has increased and so has the perseverance of what we must call now an emerging Egyptian national movement that opposes the current arrangements as being a restoration of the same regime that the January revolution rose up against in 2011. The coup, accordingly, had to take a more aggressive move. Declaring the MB a terrorist organisation means, according to the Egyptian Minister of the Interior, that organisers of pro-MB protests would be punished by the death penalty and any participant in these protests would be sentenced to at least five years in jail. Obviously, the security forces can easily claim that any protest is pro-MB, for, according to the propaganda of the Egyptian regime, if one is against the coup, one has to be ipso facto pro-MB. In fact, a webpage of some Egyptian police officers (widely believed to be an unofficial mouthpiece of the Ministry of the Interior) has announced that Egyptians raising the famous yellow Rabaa sign or even posting it on their Facebook pages would be persecuted. (The Rabaa sign, for better or for worse, has emerged as a powerful symbol for the rejection of the coup regime and its unrestrained willingness to shed Egyptian blood.) The Egyptian government has gone so far as to announce hotlines to report any suspected member of the MB (i.e. any suspected rejecter of the status quo and the arrangements being made), a situation reminiscent indeed of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Communist Russia.

Terrorism, as defined by Al-Sisi’s Egypt, has expanded to include persons who peacefully raise a sign that reminds of a massacre committed by the current Egyptian regime against its people and calls for justice. By closing all the doors on peaceful protests for those Egyptians rejecting the current arrangements, the coup regime is obviously seeking to push the opposition to use violence so that they can justify more violence against it. This, again, evidently bespeaks a mentality that is convinced that arrangements can only be enforced through the use of violence; one that has no concern whatsoever for political dialogue and negotiations, let alone civil liberties, freedoms, and human rights. In fact, these principles sound genuinely ironic in the context of the current situation in Egypt. It is time that the international community understood the nature of the current Egyptian leadership that does not and will not be willing to listen to the voice of reason (remember Saddam Hussein and his defiance despite the hundreds of calls on him to evacuate Kuwait before he was forced to). It is time that the international community insist that they be brought to justice before international tribunals on charges of crimes against humanity. If this regime succeeds in consolidating its power, Egypt will undoubtedly emerge as an ultra-fascist state in the Middle East with the consequences that these kinds of regimes have always led to, both on the peoples of the Middle East and beyond.

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