Friday, December 27, 2013

Egypt continues persecution of Muslim Brotherhood members and spells out punishments

Someone reading a copy of Al-Hurreyya wal-Adala, the newspaper of the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood. The paper had been closed and its printing materials heve been confiscated. (Reuters) 

Egypt's ministry of the Interior on Thursday detailed the punishment for anyone association with the Muslim Brotherhood, one day after the cabinet declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. Anyone who joins Muslim Brotherhood marches will receive a five-year prison sentence, the MOI spokesman said, according to the press agency MENA . Those who are proven to be members in the Brotherhood, anyone who promotes the group verbally or in writing, as well as those caught carrying publications or recordings of the group, will also face the same sentence, ministry spokesman Hany Abd El-Fattah said. Anyone who takes up an administrative position in the group, finances it with money or provides information to the group, will face a hard labour sentence.

 Egypt’s interim government is currently moving to freeze its assets and close its offices nationwide. The Interior Ministry’s official page on Facebook stated earlier on Thursday that, based on the cabinet's decision to declare the Brotherhood a terrorist Group, the General Directorate for investigation and Property Rights, in cooperation with Al-Ahram institution, decided to stop printing and publishing the Freedom and Justice Newspaper, the mouth piece of the Brotherhood.The statement added that the printing supervisor at Al-Ahram has been officially prohibited from printing the newspaper, and all materials used for printing have been confiscated.
Menwahile scores of Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested Thursday on terror charges. In the city of Alexandria prosecutors ordered that seven members of the group be detained for 15 days pending investigations, among them former lawmaker Mahmoud Ateya, a member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. In the governorate of Sharqiya, security forces arrested 16 members of the Brotherhood. In the Nile Delta city of Zagazig, prosecutors ordered the detention of 11 Brotherhood members for 15 days pending investigations over charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation and the attempted murder of students and security guards, after taking part in university protests that descended into clashes.
Al-Azhar student supporters of the Brotherhood, who took to the streets on Thursday night in Madinet Nasr,  clashed with anti-Morsi residents in an incident which left one person dead, Egypt's interior ministry said in a statement. The ministry said seven Brotherhood supporters had been arrested after police intervened.
So far there was surprising little criticism of the measures the government has taken. Some political forces even welcomed them. The Rebel (Tamarod) group which had lobbied for the ouster of president Morsi, called it a delayed measure, but said "better late than never." The Egyptian Social Democratic Party also applauded the decision. The liberal Free Egyptians Party issued a statement on Thursday welcoming the "historic decision" that puts an end to "one of the most horrible fascist and racist groups." And also officials of the liberal Wafd Party said to be happy that the Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organisation.
Criticism came mainly from legal experts who said that this decision can easily be overturned by an administrative court, as it was a purely political decision which was not backed by law. Others asked the question whether parliamentary elections could even be lawful if parts of the population will be excluded. And some liberal politicians an commentators (mainly on Twitter) warned that outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood could mean that the organisation will continue its life as an underground organisation with possibly dire consequences, like an increase of subversive activities.   

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