Egypt's Brotherhood cries foul over prison deaths

CAIRO Sun Aug 18, 2013 5:44pm EDT

1 of 14. Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy speaks during a news conference in Cairo August 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Muhammad Hamed

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, fighting for its political survival, has accused security forces of killing dozens of detained Islamists, upping the pressure in a crisis that has rocked the Arab world's most populous state.

At least 850 people have died since last Wednesday in clashes pitting followers of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi against the army-backed government in the worst bloodletting in Egypt's modern history.

As Western anxiety grows, Egypt's army chief vowed to stand firm in the face of violence on Sunday, calling on the Brotherhood to bow to the will of the people and accept the July 3 removal of Mursi, which followed mammoth street protests.

Senior European Union diplomats will meet in Brussels on Monday to review how best to leverage some 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) of promised grants and loans, looking to apply pressure on Cairo's new rulers to find a compromise deal.

Since the fall of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak more than two years ago, Egypt has staggered from one crisis to another, alarming allies in the West and in neighboring Israel, with which it has had a peace treaty since 1979.

But Saudi Arabia warned the United States and Europe on Sunday against pressing the government to halt a crackdown on the Brotherhood, which it has always eyed with distrust.

The Interior Ministry said 36 Brotherhood members died during an attempted prison breakout on Sunday near the capital, saying the prisoners had been suffocated by tear gas.

Offering a very different version of events, a legal source told Reuters 38 men had died from asphyxiation in the back of a crammed police van. The Brotherhood, battling to reverse the overthrow of Mursi, held the authorities responsible.

"The murders show the violations and abuses that political detainees who oppose the July 3 coup get subjected to," it said.

Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested in recent days across Egypt in an effort to end weeks of protests, but the group has said it will not retreat and staged rallies in both Cairo and Alexandria on Sunday.

The government says at least 70 members of the security forces have died in the past five days and the prime minister has proposed disbanding the 85-year-old Brotherhood.

DESTRUCTION

In his first public comments since hundreds of people were killed when security forces cleared two pro-Mursi camps in Cairo last Wednesday, army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said he would not "stand by silently watching the destruction of the country".

Striking an inclusive note in a televised speech, he told Mursi's supporters: "There is room for everyone in Egypt." But he said they had to "revise their national position".

The capital's frenetic streets, unusually empty in the past few days, were busier on Sunday, although the army kept several big squares closed and enforced a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Banks and the stock market reopened for the first time since Wednesday's carnage, and shares plunged 3.9 percent, underscoring the country's growing economic problems.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that if the violence continued, the European Union might have to reduce some of its assistance programs.

Speaking on France 2 television, he said cutting aid would be difficult, as EU money allowed "Egyptians to eat and receive medical treatment". However, "loans are easier to cut," he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, on a visit to Paris, urged caution. "We will not achieve anything through threats," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

In calibrated rebukes to the army, the United States has delayed delivery of four F-16 fighters and scrapped a joint military exercise, but it has not halted its $1.55 billion a year in aid to Egypt, mostly to finance U.S.-made arms supplies.

However, on Sunday, Republican and Democrat U.S. lawmakers - several of them reversing earlier stances from before the crackdown - said Washington should suspend the aid.

"For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stood for," said Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona.

"There are many areas where we could exercise influence over the generals, and we're not doing any of it, and we're not sticking with our values," he said.

Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy sought to pre-empt any Western attempt to use aid flows as a lever by saying he would look at all such assistance to see "what aid is being used to pressure Egypt and whether this aid has good intentions and credibility".

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

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Comments (63)
SKYDRIFTER wrote:
For the moment, at least, it appears that the Muslim Brotherhood is either being smart – or losing.

Hopefully, calm will prevail.

Aug 17, 2013 8:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
“Burns0011″ described the present situation in Egypt quite well.

“The big problem with the Muslim Brotherhood is that they’re of the opinion that God is on their side, and ONLY on their side. Therefore, everything they do is in God’s name and no matter how horrific the act, it is justified because they believe in God.

“Torture, rape, murder, arson, engineering the slaughter of their own followers, EVERYTHING is justified, because they have a holy cause.”

“Burns0011″ is 100 % absolutely correct in his pointed description of what is taking place in Egypt.

The many groups, world wide, including numerous so-called “Human Rights” groups, as well as so-called “World Leaders” and other talking heads who love to chatter away as if they were the world’s self appointed oracles of wisdom, all share one key malady in common.

They can only see the world and situations in the world, in the most simplistic, Black and White, terms. Any ability to see complex nuances in fast changing and often violent and confusing events is beyond their reach of human understanding.

It is a breath of fresh air that the relatively quite young, and extremely perceptive, Mahmoud Badr, “the activist whose petition campaign helped to bring down Egypt’s Islamist president”, sees the situation in Egypt far more clearly than so many of the “talking heads” around the world who were so fast to condemn the Army’s actions as “deplorable”, to quote a word used by one of the most outspoken and famous “talking heads” of them all.

Interestingly, many nations, never hesitate to employ mega degrees of violence, (Vietnam, Iraq, et al), when they don’t like the direction political events are taking in other nations around the world.

But when someone else, in this case, the Egyptian Army, is literally compelled to take lethal action to prevent a far worse situation from unfolding in the near future, then all the “talking heads” can’t open their laptops fast enough to rein condemnation down on the heads of others.

The Muslim Brotherhood was clearly taking Egypt in a direction that millions of Egyptians did not want it to go.

It is not even relevant if the Muslim Brotherhood represented the majority or the minority of all Egyptians.

If the majority of all Americans suddenly wanted to bring back the age of “Slavery”, and make slavery legal, would that mean, the minority of Americans opposing turning back the clock, must accept such a barbaric decision because it was the majority opinion.

Certain aspects of what is acceptable or not acceptable via a “Democratic” process also require employing a healthy dose of plain old common sense.

The Muslim Brotherhood was and still is, clearly intent on transforming the most populous Arab nation, amounting to 85,000,000 people into a State ruled by the concepts of Sharia Law including all the backward, fanatical rules and barbaric human punishments Sharia Law entails.

It is most telling that the young people of Egypt understand far better than most outsiders, that Egypt was in danger of being dragged back into the Middle Ages, or better said the darkest of Dark Ages if the Muslim Brotherhood was not removed from power at the earliest possible opportunity.

During WW II, at a certain point in time, some of the highest ranking Nazi Officers of the Third Reich, began to see the handwriting on the wall, that Hitler’s policies were clearly going to bring total destruction down upon the heads of the German people.

They attempted a desperate “coup” that failed and over one thousand German Officers were arrested, tortured and summarily executed. And Hitler proceeded to drag Germany down into the very deepest bowels of Hell.

Had the “coup” succeeded, those German Army Officers would have gone down in the annals of history as true Heroes.

The Egyptian Army, while so derided and condemned by the “talking heads” has clearly stepped forward at a critical moment in Egypt’s history to prevent the nation from being dragged back into the Dark Ages, something a country with 85,000,000 people, and thousands of serious problems, both economic and social, could not afford to see happen.

“For the next few weeks, Badr predicted “more violence and possible political assassinations” but added: “We will win over terrorism and civil war eventually.”

Let us hope, for the sake of the most populous Arab nation, this young man is correct.

But it will not be with any thanks to all the world’s countless mealy-mouthed, hypocritical, double talking, opportunistic politicians, who could not on their own, even escape from a simple paper bag, if their lives depended upon it.

Aug 17, 2013 10:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Until now there were no or very few suicide bombers. Soon Egyptl, because of its large increasingly unemployed population and declining economy, will have many of them — very many and they will also shut the Suez Canal, either by wrecking it into impassability, or by suicide attacks that make foreign crews reluctant to sail through and insurance companies fearful of insuring vessels using the canal, and/or correcting charging rates so high that shipping outfits can’t afford it, or shops on the receiving end of transports that get through having to charge retail customers so much that nobody buys the goods anymore, especially in depressed Europe.
People will fondly remember the days of Muslim Brotherhood democratic peace before this plays out over sever years, perhaps a decade or more, after which it won’t matter much because the worst side of Climate Change will have people cowering about something nobody can control.

Aug 17, 2013 11:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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