Egypt has recently decided to declare the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization. The declaration, which was made Wednesday by the military-backed interim government, in effect criminalizes all of the group’s activities including financing and membership in the organization. The declaration by Egypt’s leadership signals a stronger stance being taken against militant Islam within its borders.
It has been nearly six months since the military coup which ousted Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi. Since that time supporters, and fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi also belongs, have organized constant demonstrations in an effort to have their former leader reinstated.
Egypt has suffered serious violence since the overthrow of Morsi, and the death toll since the coup has topped 1,000. The recent move by the interim government of Egypt to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization is a sign that the leadership could be preparing to crackdown on the movement which is accused of consistently using violence to make its point.
The declaration has the effect of grouping together the more militant organization Al-Qaeda with the still violent but less active Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s government will now look at both of the Islamic organizations as terrorist groups. Egypt’s decision to criminalize the Muslim Brotherhood comes on the heels of a deadly suicide bomb attack Tuesday which targeted the Daqhaleya police headquarters. The attack reportedly killed 15 and injured close to 100 individuals.
Although Egypt’s leadership has placed the blame for such violent attacks squarely on Al-Qaeda and now the Muslim Brotherhood, the Brotherhood has repeatedly denied that it uses violence and claims that it only uses peaceful methods to communicate its desires.
Hossam Eissa, the Minister of Higher Education, spoke out regarding Egypt’s recent declaration stating, “The Cabinet has declared the Muslim Brotherhood group and its organization as a terrorist organization.” Speaking in regards to the bombings he said, “Egypt was horrified from north to south by the hideous crime committed by the Muslim Brotherhood group.”
The announcement from Egypt’s Cabinet stated, “Members who continue to belong to this group or organization following the release of this statement will be punished according to the law.” Egypt’s leadership has also made it clear that all activities undertaken by individuals acting on behalf of the group would be punishable by law, including protests. The new declaration is sure to heighten the tensions between the government and Morsi supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood who have been organizing non-stop demonstrations since Egypt’s former leader was ousted.
Morsi was thrown out of power July 3 by a popular military-backed coup, which left in place the interim government that has issued the recent declaration. The former leader of Egypt ruled for one year but is now imprisoned and facing numerous charges. His fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group the deposed leader belonged to himself, are now seeing themselves the possible targets of a more decided government crackdown on militant Islam.
Although all of Islam reveres a book (Quran) which calls for the making of war against and killing of “infidels” (Sura 2:191, 193; 8:39; 9:123), the Muslim Brotherhood has apparently taken this mandate to a point at which the government of Egypt has decided to declare the group to be a terrorist organization. The group itself strongly denies that it uses violence, and has repeatedly claimed that it uses only peaceful methods of demonstration.
Despite claims by the Muslim Brotherhood to the contrary, as of today, in the eyes of Egypt’s interim government, the Muslim Brotherhood is just another terrorist organization. The future will show just what the recent announcement will mean for the level of violence on the streets of Egypt.
By Daniel Worku