السبت، 1 أغسطس، 2015

Push for Retribution in Egypt Frays Muslim Brotherhood


CAIRO — A veteran leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was so alarmed by the rising calls for violence from the group’s youth that he risked arrest to urge the movement to stay peaceful.
Already hunted by the police for his role in a banned organization when he released his online manifesto in May, the leader, Mahmoud Ghuzlan, conceded that shunning violence in the face of the government crackdown on the Brotherhood was “like grasping a burning coal.” But, he said, history taught that “peacefulness is stronger than weapons, and violence is the reason for defeat and demise.”
It was a losing argument, or so it now appears. The police in Cairo soon found and arrested him. A chorus of Islamists mocked him on social media as naïve, unrealistic and hypocritical.
And his manifesto for “peacefulness” was quickly drowned out by official statements that have come closer to endorsing violence than anything the organization has said or done in more than four decades — an ominous turn for both Egypt and the West. Not only is the Brotherhood Egypt’s largest political organization, its long history gives it unique influence among Islamists beyond the Middle East to Europe, North America and elsewhere.
Brotherhood officials insist that the group still opposes violence as immoral and counterproductive. There are no signs that it is seeking to start an armed insurgency or ally with others who have done so — such as the Sinai arm of the Islamic State.
But some in the Brotherhood also acknowledge privately that the demands of young members for “retribution” against participants in the military takeover two years ago are threatening to stretch the group’s ideology toward violence, widening a generational split at a time when the Brotherhood’s discipline is fraying and many young members blame their elders for bungling the Arab Spring revolt and their chance to govern.
“The aggrieved party has the right to fight back against the aggressor,” more than a hundred Muslim scholars wrote on May 27 in an open letter, “The Egypt Call,” that the Brotherhood formally endorsed the next day.
Labeling President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government a “murderous regime,” the scholars wrote that Islam prescribed that those who collaborated with him — such as “rulers, judges, officers, soldiers, muftis, media professionals and politicians” — should be punished as “murderers.” All are “murderers according to religious law,” they wrote. (More than 620,000 other people have since endorsed the statement online.)
Newly formed groups with names like Revolutionary Punishment and Popular Resistance, which receive online support from many social media accounts that also back the Brotherhood, have already claimed responsibility for small-scale bombings on police stations, empty businesses and electric utilities in recent months.
At the end of June, the Giza chapter of Popular Resistance also claimed responsibility online for a remotely detonated bomb that killed the country’s top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat. (The group’s initial statement was later deleted without explanation, but no one else has since taken responsibility.)

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