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US newspaper decries criminalisation of Muslim Brotherhood, calls for US to take action

February 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

The Washington Post newspaper published an editorial on Friday condemning Egypt’s interim cabinet for designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, arguing that this shows how “Egypt has abandoned the path to democracy” after the military coup that deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. The newspaper demanded for the US to take stronger action in protest of this “tragedy”, which has “serious implications for the US”.

Egypt’s interim government has blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for a series of recent attacks “without any evidence”, the newspaper argued, and despite the fact that the group has denounced all violence and an unrelated group had claimed responsibility.

On Tuesday, a powerful car bomb exploded at a police headquarters in the Egyptian city of Mansoura in the Nile Delta, killing at least 15 people and injuring more than 100. The military authorities immediately blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack and designated it as a terrorist group the following day, even though the Muslim Brotherhood decried the attack and Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, an unrelated jihadist group, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On Thursday, another bomb exploded near a bus in Cairo, injuring five people. The authorities responded by conducting a mass arrest campaign against Muslim Brotherhood members and freezing the assets of a number of charities that provide poorer Egyptians with essential food aid, medical care and education, even those only loosely affiliated with the Islamist movement.

The editorial noted that the Muslim Brotherhood’s “designation as a terror group will have a wide impact, shuttering hundreds of charities and nongovernmental organisations that are affiliated with it,” adding that, “This is a huge step backward that will further alienate a broad social movement.”

And while the newspaper recognised that “The Obama administration has put a brake on some military aid and loans to Egypt,” the editorial suggested that more is needed. It also called the State Department’s response to Wednesday’s designation “awfully meek in light of what’s happened”, pointing out that there cannot be dialogue and inclusion when the opposition is criminalised.

The editorial concluded that: “The time has come for stronger US protests and action. To remain timid in the face of repression will invite only more. “