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Muslim Brotherhood Apologizes for ‘Militia’ Demonstration
Muslim Brotherhood students, who dressed in hooded militia garb during a recent demonstration against government crackdowns on political activism, have regretted their actions but fell short of a full apology or promising to refrain from repeating such events. Two of the students apologized on satellite TV on Tuesday. Accompanied by Brotherhood MP Mohammed Beltagui, the tw
Thursday, December 14,2006 00:00
by Sarah El Sirgany, Daily Star
Muslim Brotherhood students, who dressed in hooded militia garb during a recent demonstration against government crackdowns on political activism, have regretted their actions but fell short of a full apology or promising to refrain from repeating such events.

Two of the students apologized on satellite TV on Tuesday. Accompanied by Brotherhood MP Mohammed Beltagui, the two students said they regretted the negative image in which the organization appeared but they didn’t apologize for demonstrating in such a way.

“As we ask you to accept our apology we also hold you responsible for the violations of our rights,” read the apology that was sent to media the following day and posted on the organization’s website.

The Brotherhood says the issue is being blown out of proportion in the media especially with rising accusations that the organization is showing off its military wing.

Still, other than a few strong worded editorials and televised coverage, local media have downplayed the incident, especially state-run press. Compared to previous incidents in which state-run papers took the opportunity to criticize the Brotherhood, this one isn’t receiving the expected attention.

There seems to be an undeclared policy that doesn’t give the Brotherhood any coverage even if it is negative. The organization is often referred to as “the religious stream” in state-run papers.

The issue was first reported by Al Masry Al Youm, an independent daily. But what was on Al Masry’s front page was left to the inside pages of state-run papers. And instead of a continuous flow of critical editorials, there were less than a handful.

Political analyst Amr El Choubkei, although critical of the organization, expressed the same opinion in an interview with The Daily Star Egypt. The inclusion of violence or implying its possible use is a feature of the "deterioration of political dialogue," he said, explaining that it was the government that introduced violence to the political scene.

The El Gomhouria daily kept its coverage to one strong worded editorial and a report quoting students denouncing the events.

Comparing Brotherhood ideology to Nazism and Fascism, El Gomhouria editor Mohamed Ali Ibrahim said the organization aims at the destruction of Egyptian society. “They are driving youth to their death.”

“What does the Brotherhood want from Egypt? Why are they arming and training our youth?”

Brotherhood leaders have strongly refuted allegations that the demonstrations were “a show of force” for their secret military wing.

The organization is not establishing a military wing as alleged, Mohamed Habib, MB deputy leader told The Daily Star Egypt. He said the whole incident was misinterpreted and blown out of proportion in an attempt to mar the Brotherhood’s image.

The Brotherhood’s website stresses this point in numerous articles and statements.

But junior members of the banned but tolerated Islamist group are highly critical of the event and the manner in which the apology was delivered.  

“They [the students] owe an apology to the Brotherhood, the faculty, their colleagues and Egyptians,” said ikhwanweb.com board member Ibrahim El Houdiby.

Knowing that his position could upset other members in the organization, the 23-year-old El Houdiby said the incident “requires revisiting what we teach student and the level of supervision they get in organizing events.”

“We should take the necessary measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he added.

Explaining that the Brotherhood follow Hassan El Banna’s discourse, which is based on reform not confrontation, El Houbiby said that “whoever doesn’t abide by this discourse shouldn’t represent the organization.”

El Houdiby repeatedly stressed that the “stupid” action carried by “furious students” doesn’t represent the Brotherhood in anyway.

 

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