The crackdown on Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood by the military shows no signs of abating. Recent reports highlight the worsening situation, after 22 women members of the Muslim Brotherhood were detained Thursday. The one time ruling party under the leadership of former President Mohammed Morsi have staged protests and demonstrations against the military’s crackdown, only to be quickly subdued through force and violent means. Meanwhile Egypt’s government remains in a state of political limbo, with remnants of the former ruling military class maintaining grip over many aspects of Egyptian institutions. This comes day before deposed President Mohammed Morsi and several other members of the Muslim Brotherhood are set to stand trial.
The charges are for President Morsi’s involvement in an act of violence around the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace according to MENA, Egypt’s state news agency. No specifics on details of the incident.
Morsi’s forced removal from office in July set in motion a series of turbulent events, fueling Islamic extremism in Egypt. Reports of desecrated churches and discrimination against Egypt’s Coptic Christians have dimmed the hopes many had when former President and military general Hosni Mubarak was removed from power almost two years ago following mass demonstrations.
Under Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities were banned and the group outlawed. The Muslim Brotherhood went underground, and in the 50’s and 60’s were held responsible for various acts of violence in Egypt, including an attempted assassination attempt on then President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Anyone who was discovered to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood was subject to arrest and torture.
After the 1970’s the Muslim Brotherhood relinquished their violent tactics and worked towards being accepted as active members of Egyptian politics. Their victory in the 2012 Presidential election while widely contested, was accepted as a legitimate victory for the Islamist party, a once forbidden political movement in Egypt.
While the Arab Spring was a sign of hope and change for the region, some countries have faired much worse than others. Syria spiraled out into an uncontrollable civil war, claiming the lives of 100,000 people as a result of Bashar al-Assad’s refusal to stand down as President. While Egypt’s current situation is much less deadly, it is nevertheless still an area of deep concern for the region.
U.S. Officials have taken note of the recent events in Egypt and are in talks of halting aid to the military if such incidents continue. According to the U.S., the Egyptian military must fully recognize the democratic rights of all people in Egypt if they are to be considered eligible for aid. Despite such rhetoric, U.S. lawmakers have sought loopholes in the law against funding governments ushered in by force in hopes of maintaining a powerful ally in the region.
All this is a backdrop to a seriously degrading situation in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood is once again despised by the political establishment, and are being persecuted in large numbers, only worsening tensions between various religious sects.
While some say Morsi’s increasingly authoritarian practices did warrant a review of his position as leader, many could argue the current situation in Egypt isn’t any better for the prospects of democracy.
According to Egypt’s interim foreign minister Nabil Fahmy, nationwide elections will be held by spring.
by John Amaruso