Tyranny is still widespread all over Egypt, destroying everything, curbing freedoms, polluting even the pure air, …nothing remains….except prisons that have been hosting, during more than half a century, thousands of respected Egyptians to the extent that the political action has been exercised in prisons after it was outlawed in the Egyptian street which is currently besieged by huge numbers o central security soldiers.
This is the current status of Egypt, the centre of Arabism and Islamic world, a country which is supposed to be carrying out its role of leading the region, but it has fallen into oblivion; it has become now a burden on the future of the Nation; how can Egypt attain a pioneering role while its political, social and economic leaders are behind bars?!. Whenever a group of these leaders is released, another group is thrown so that political detentions continue, and activists remain in prisons. Meanwhile, the Egyptian regime is running the political life through methods of detention, emergency laws and violating law and constitution, while activists are sent to prison amid a state of political paralysis…so that the regime continue sacrificing the Egyptian society, vitality, movements and groups, as if it wants to survive and remain in power even if all Egypt were thrown behind bars or that all Egypt became like an open prison.
The regime could not bear the political diversity inside the Egyptian society, and it didn’t even contain any political movements inside an organized democratic political game; it has continuously tried, throughout its long history, to freeze the political process to prevent any possible competition from any political movement.
After freezing the life of political parties, preventing establishing parties for real opposition, imposing its tight grip over the political life and after a long history of media and security blockade against the Muslim Brotherhood group, after all these exercises, the regime faced a serious test in 2005 parliamentary elections, as it found that the Muslim Brotherhood enjoying a wide-scale public attendance which enabled it to achieve a good result in the elections after garnering 88 seats for its candidates after the regime blocked, through rigging and fraud, other 40 MB candidates from garnering more seats.
Thus, the regime discovered that the security pushes and media distortions wouldn’t lead to besieging the group and wouldn’t lead to curb its public support; contrary to its expectations: The parliamentary seats that the group garnered in 1987 elections in the coalition with the Labour Party that was frozen thereafter was less than the parliamentary seats it garnered in 2005, although it enjoyed during the 1980s a space of freedom of movement, which was retracted thereafter, specifically in 1992. This means that the Muslim Brotherhood group achieved, while under siege, a result better than the one it it achieved in a less tense atmosphere.
However, after the elections of the Egyptian People’s Assembly, came the 2006 legislative elections in Palestine in which Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot in Palestine, won a majority; at this point, the regime saw that it is facing a popular movement that it (the regime) must confront. But it did not confront it with politics or in a fair and free competition although the regime has many tolls that enable it to compete with the group but the regime is not willing to hold the social and political action among the public opinion, and it doesn’t want to establish a public legitimacy for itself, knowing to what extent there is a popular rejection to it.
The regime resorted again to the security and media blockade, and it launched an escalation against the Muslim Brotherhood, an escalation that hasn’t stopped since 1992. In the midst of this unprecedented state of media lobbying, the regime fabricated a money laundry case and accordingly arrested businessmen affiliated to the group, shut down their companies and added their employees to jobless rolls.
Here came the turn on Khairat Al Shater with whose arrest the regime started its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood in 1992; and whom it referred to a military court in 1995, and kept him behind bars from 1995 to 2000, to be arrested again in 2001, and remain jailed for a full year pending investigation; Khairat Al Shater has been arrested again in later 2006, to be acquitted along with MB co-defendants by court but the regime issued another arrest warrant against them and transferred them to a military tribunal.
How can they allow Al Shater to live freely outside prison, how can they allow thais man who is faithful to his homeland and his cause, who has a long history in the political struggle, and a great expert in social and political action, in addition to being a prominent and distinguished businessman?!. How can they allow him to live outside prison while he is continuously working and continuously sacrificing, while he is working silently without watching him in the media?! How can he and his MB fellow leaders remain outside prison with their distinguished abilities in the successful economic business which is free of corruption and bribes and free of the network of interests affiliated to the ruling regime.
This regime forgot that Al Shater was thrown in prison for years like many of his MB fellow leaders and was released while he was more active and more energetic. The regime forgot that the crackdowns in 1995 and 1996 reached their peak with a confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood group, but the results of 2005 elections confirmed that these means are useless. The regime knows very well that how much money was frozen during the past 15 year crackdowns and how much money were paid in bails for provisional detainees. The regime knows very well that the strength of the MB group is in its popular support, not in money.
We say that: the regime knows very well that these means will not lead to destroying or even curbing the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood group, and that its prisons will not affect men like Al Shater and his fellow MB leaders, because the ones who win the public support won’t be destroyed by prisons.
*Dr. Rafik Habib is a well-known Egyptian Coptic Intellectual
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