Repressed or Resilient: Egypt Strips Muslims Brotherhood from NGO Status [Democracy Digest]

October 8, 2013

Egypt’s cabinet today the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from a list of approved non-governmental organizations, AFP reports:

The move comes after an Egyptian court last month banned the Muslim Brotherhood from operating and ordered its assets seized, amid a massive crackdown on the group following the military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. In its September 23 ruling, the court had also banned “any institution branching out from or belonging to the Brotherhood”.

A panel formed by Egypt’s interim-cabinet today ordered the seizure of the Muslim Brotherhood’s frozen assets and the annulment of the Islamist group’s status as a registered NGO, reported Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website.

The decision follows a weekend of violent clashes between the Brotherhood and supporters of the military-backed interim government and a series of attacks by suspected Islamist militants.

“The conflict may very well spoil the interim government’s plans for economic revival and derail any attempt to put Egypt back on a democratic course,” Borzou Daragahi reports from Cairo. “And it raises the question as to whether either side has seriously thought out its endgame for the dangerous duel now taking place.”

The government’s actions also raise questions about the Brotherhood’s resilience and the military’s capacity to repress the Islamist group, analysts suggest.

“Neither of them is able to score a decisive victory over the other,” says Emad Shahin, a professor of political science at American University of Cairo. “This shows that a political solution has to be developed and adopted. This idea of either side trying to impose a solution is not going to work.”

The Brotherhood’s approach is tragically shortsighted, Egypt-based Brookings Institution fellow H. A. Hellyer tells The New York Times:

Egypt’s security forces were likely to meet almost any mass demonstration with force, and the Islamists end up taking the blame for the loss of life, the chaos and any subsequent retaliation like the attacks on Monday.

“Who do you think will be blamed for that R.P.G. attack?” Mr. Hellyer said. “More people will die, you will have violence in other parts of the country, and all that will be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“It is only a question of whether the Brotherhood are pummeled out of the political arena, or if they withdraw on their own terms,” he added.

But Professor Shahin of the American University in Cairo argued that by harassing the government the protests gave the Islamists some leverage, and that the current government was also in a battle it could never fully win. “

You can’t just say, ‘I have half the population on my side and with it I can crush the other half,’ and go on like that indefinitely,” he said. “This military-backed government cannot consolidate on the basis of repression and the authoritarian measures of the ‘50s and ‘60s. That is a bygone era.”

The recent spate of violence is likely to derail the government’s hopes of reviving Egypt’s tourism-dependent economy, The Washington Post reports:

“I think it’s incredibly worrying,” said Samer Shehata, an Egypt expert and political scientist at the University of Oklahoma. “How in the world are you going to encourage people to come back to Egypt and see the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings and bring in money if this is happening? How are you going to entice foreign direct investment if there is this kind of violence and perceived instability?”

Source: Democracy Digest

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