The Egyptian government intends to keep things quiet on its side of the border with Gaza and to avoid any opportunity for those opposing Israel’s attack to show support for Gazans. Eleven reporters who worked with the Hisham Mubarak Center for Human Rights said they were brutality attacked and their cameras smashed for daring to report protests against Egyptian policy toward the Gaza situation. According to the reporters, police assaulted them, shoving and hitting anyone in their way and destroying their cameras and any film they had taken of the protests against Israel’s attack on Gaza. According to Rasha Azab of the Al-Fagr newspaper, “police forces wanted everyone to stay home for days” in order to play down the reality of Egyptian opposition to their government’s policies.
According to Alsaied Al Harany, “we were taking pictures of police forces beating and assaulting protestors and once we were spotted by officers, we were immediately surrounded” and then rounded up to be sent to jail.
President Mubarak made a mistake by not taking an active role in opposing Israel’s actions, all he did was allow the Muslim Brotherhood to become the hero of the masses. It makes more sense to lead the mob rather than allow your opponent to assume that position.
More than 50,000 Egyptians gathered after Friday prayers in order to voice their anger at the refusal of their government to assist the people of Gaza. The demonstration was organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, and undoubtedly it allowed this militant group to gain new adherents to its cause by becoming the focal point for protest against the madness of Gaza. At first, police tried to break up the demonstration but finally realized there were simply too many people. The government of Israel still does not realize by killing civilians and children it is assisting every militant group in the Middle East to gain support from thousands of individuals who may not necessarily support radical beliefs, but are shocked at what is transpiring in Gaza.
Hamas sent a delegation to meet with the Egyptian government and made clear they were not going to support a cease fire unless they are actively involved in designing such a statement. Hamas desperately wants the Israel bombing to continue because every time a child dies, Hamas gets new recruits. The brutality of the Israel invasion meets the goals of Hamas.
Many Israelis who now support the invasion of Gaza forget that in the 1980s, Israel security forces encouraged the creation of Hamas as a way to get back at Arafat whom they viewed as the major enemy of their nation. Which new radical group is being born today which ten years from now will make Israel security regard Hamas as a more pliable group for discussions?
Egypt remains a key American ally in the struggle to establish democratic societies in the Middle East, but unfortunately, the Egyptian government has stifled free speech and made free elections an unusual event. The major opponent of President Mubarak is the Muslim Brotherhood which enjoys considerable popularity among many sectors of Egyptian society. On Monday, security forces arrested 39 members of the Muslim Brotherhood while its leaders were on vacation in the Nile Delta. An official stated: “Thirty-nine Muslim Brothers were arrested while on holiday in Kafr Al-Sheikh. The website of the Muslim Brotherhood indicated three of those arrested held positions of local power in the organization. The men are accused of propogating Muslim Brotherhood ideas and being found in possession of Islamist literature which is banned in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 and officially banned while President Nasser led the nation. The Brotherhood currently holds about one fifth of seats in Parliament although these representatives must run as independents.
The Muslim Brotherhood can play a vital role in furthering the development of democracy in Egypt. The Egyptian government needs an opposition in order to curb nepotism and corruption which are widespread in Egypt.