Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Muslim Brotherhood, civil society increasingly targeted as Egypt cracks down on opposition

The crackdown on opposition figures continues in Egypt, as President Hosni Mubarak nears the final stages of his quarter-century rule. One of the most targeted groups has been the banned Muslim Brotherhood, The Washington Post reported on Monday, saying that “the government is using detentions and legal changes to neutralize the country’s last surviving major political movement,” referring to the Brotherhood.

After the Brotherhood’s strong showing in Egypt’s 2005 elections, the government made changes to the constitution. “The government is also writing its crackdown into law. Constitution changes pushed through by the government after the Brotherhood’s strong showing in 2005 shut out its members in upper house elections this June. Next year, the government promises to present a new anti-terrorism code that the Brotherhood expects to be used for further crackdowns against it.”

Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, said that the administration’s moves are “designed to basically institutionalize the campaign against the Brotherhood and make sure it will not be allowed to either compete with the ruling party or threaten Mubarak’s new successor.”

“Tyranny has reached unprecedented limits from any previous regime,” said Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the supreme guide, or highest leader, of the Brotherhood, which the government has outlawed for decades but allowed to operate within narrow limits. “This is insane tyranny.”

In addition the Brotherhood, Egyptian civil society remains a major government target.

According to the article: “Last month a judge ordered a year’s hard labor for the editors of four leading opposition newspapers, saying they had made the ruling party, Mubarak and his son Gamal appear dictatorial. Then, last Monday, a judge handed down two-year prison sentences to three opposition journalists because their coverage had impugned Egypt’s justice system.

Last month, according to the article, the government “also closed an Egyptian human rights organization that had been active in exposing allegations of police torture.”

Egypt’s leaders “feel that democratization means that they will leave their chairs and leave their positions, and they are not able to pay this cost,” said Hafez Abu Seada Abu Seada, of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

For the full article, click here.



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