As bombs and terrorist attacks continue to rock Egypt almost daily, the regime is moving with the utmost determination to stamp out all traces of the Islamist opposition.
The branding of the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday as a terrorist organization was followed up on Thursday by a number of additional moves designed to push the group underground.
In addition to jail terms for protesting for or promoting the Brotherhood, hotlines have been set up so citizens can report people they think are members of the group.
The Muslim Brotherhood also claimed on its website that the government froze the funds of 1,055 of its alleged charities and that as a result the generals would allow Christian missionaries to convert poor Muslims.
“There’s no reason to fear or worry, the Egyptian army will sacrifice itself for Egypt and Egyptians, and those who harm you will vanish from the face of the earth,” Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared on Thursday, according to Ahram Online.
The next stage will probably include mass arrests, trials and incarcerations of Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters, a move that will upset many in the West who will see these actions as totalitarian and against democracy.
Some analysts believe, however, that the West and Israel should be greatly satisfied with the Egyptian government crackdown on Islamists, as it is keeping anti-Western and anti-Semitic forces at bay.
According to Yigal Carmon, president of the Washington- based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), “The current fight by the interim Egyptian regime against the Muslim Brotherhood is a heroic battle for the separation of religion and state. This is a battle that was waged in the West many years ago.
“The West should support it, since it is inconceivable that the values that the West cherishes should only be for it, while different criteria are applied to the Arabs,” he said. “This is racism.”
“The Egyptians have bypassed many countries, including Israel, in the battle for modern values,” Carmon added.
Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a contributor to this newspaper, said, “I think what can be said today is that the internal security forces are ready for major clashes with possible new demonstrations under the new decree declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.”
The decree is a blow to all Brotherhood political parties in the world, said Mazel.
Sisi must win and calm the situation in order to continue with the upcoming constitutional referendum, he said, adding that once the people vote in favor of the army-backed document, the Islamist group “will not have any pretext to continue their resistance.”
The question everyone is asking now is whether the government’s heightened efforts will lead to even more violence, at least in the short term, before the army is able to calm the situation.
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