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Muslim Brotherhood no longer serious political force in Egypt - experts

March 27, 2014, 18:08 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, March 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Radical Islamist movement Muslim Brothers has almost ceased to be a serious political force in Egypt and longer enjoys a wide support of the population. Russian experts believe that recent death penalties handed down to radical Islamists represent a harsh but adequate measure on behalf of the authorities. However, the majority of experts believe that the death penalties are unlikely to be executed, at least not all of them.

Death penalties which were brought down by the Egyptian Supreme Court on March 24 against 529 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement still have to be approved by the country’s Supreme Mufti. All convicted were charged with instigation of murders and conspiracy with the aim of terrorist attacks. As the court announced the verdicts, only 147 of the convicted people were in detention, while others remain at large, and the verdicts against them were announced in absentia. A total of 16 people were acquitted.

Although the West supported the deposition of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi from the post of the country’s president last year, it currently speaks against mass executions of members of the banned movement.

Analysts believe that the reason for such hasty and harsh court trial could be in the forthcoming election campaigns before the presidential election in April. Egypt’s ex-Defense Minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who repeatedly called the Muslim Brotherhood the main threat for the country’s security, is one of the candidates running for the presidential post.

“Mass convictions is a measure of intimidation before the election,” Vladimir Isayev, a professor at Moscow State University’s Institute for Asian and African Studies, told Izvestia daily.

“A considerable part of the population still believe that the military led by al-Sisi illegally ousted elected President Morsi in July of 2013," he added.

Isayev believes that not all of the death penalties would be carried out. It is likely that cases will be protracted in an effort to find some justifications for the majority of the convicted and to substitute their death penalties with lengthy prison terms.

Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Abdel Nour said in an interview with Izvestia daily that “it is not necessary to enforce court’s decision on death penalties.”

“Some death penalties announced on March 24 against some of the suspects cannot be taken into account. The verdict was brought down when a majority of them were absent. The judge went for the maximum penalty to force those absent to come to the trial,” the minister said.

Georgy Mirsky, a professor with the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Politics, also said it was highly unlikely that all death penalties would be executed.

“I do not think that the mass death penalty verdict against 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement will be carried out, because Egypt depends on the West,” Mirsky said. “If the new authorities drown the country in blood by killing several hundred people, than it will be hard for (US President) Barack Obama to justify the American assistance, he will be forced to cut ties (with Egypt), and he does not want this.”

Having realized that there is no legal way for the Muslim Brotherhood to return to power, they took up to arms, carried out terrorist attacks, and the Islamist movement put forward a completely unattainable demand of “bringing back President Morsi,” Mirsky said.

According to him, al-Sisi will definitely win the presidential election and his aim is to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood completely, although it would not be easy in the country with a 90% of Muslim population.

Boris Dolgov, a senior research fellow with the Center for Arabic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies with the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the verdict for Muslim Brothers members is “an absolutely adequate decision of the authorities aimed at the eradication of terrorism.”

“The investigation unearthed solid evidence proving connections of Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda, and the movement's preparations for terrorist attacks aimed to eliminate supporters of the new authorities and possibly al-Sisi himself,” Dolgov said in an interview with ITAR-TASS correspondent.

The expert believes that part of the convicted will be executed, and others will be pardoned.

He said the Muslim Brotherhood has no chances at all to influence the outcome of the forthcoming presidential election.

“Muslim Brotherhood have ceded to exist as an influential political force. They have discredited themselves so much that the absolute majority of the Egyptian society is against them,” Dolgov said adding that other Islamic political parties in Egypt have distanced themselves from the Muslim Brothers.

He said the Institute of Oriental Studies recently held three separate meetings between scientists and representatives of all social groups in Egypt. Participants in the meeting have unanimously agreed that Muslim Brothers are criminals,” Dolgov said.

The expert believes that the new Egyptian authorities will manage to completely eradicate the radical movement.


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