Egypt shouldn't ban Brotherhood – PM
29 August 2013, 11:13
Cairo - Egypt should not ban the Muslim Brotherhood or
exclude it from politics after the army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed
Morsi, the interim prime minister said, reversing his previous stated view.
The apparent about-turn fuelled speculation that the
military-installed government may now seek a political settlement to the
crisis, but also coincided with a new call for protests by Morsi’s supporters.
Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister, had proposed
on 17 August that the Brotherhood, the Arab world's oldest and arguably most influential
Islamist group, should be dissolved, and said the government was studying the
In an interview with state media late on Tuesday, Beblawi
appeared to row back, saying the government would instead monitor the group and
its political wing and that the actions of its members would determine its
"Dissolving the party or the group is not the solution
and it is wrong to make decisions in turbulent situations," the state news
agency MENA quoted Beblawi as saying.
"It is better for us to monitor parties and groups in
the framework of political action without dissolving them or having them act in
But he tempered his comments in a separate interview with
the newspaper al-Shorouk, saying parts of Egyptian society "think that the
Brotherhood does not truly desire reconciliation", and urging it to
"face up to reality".
The government has portrayed its attack on the Brotherhood
as a fight against terrorism, and Beblawi said ordinary citizens were
"afraid of reconciliation with people who use force".
There has been no sign from the Brotherhood, most of whose
leaders are now in jail or on the run, that it wants to engage with the army
establishment that bulldozed it out.
Outlawed for decades
Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood was banned by Egypt's then
military rulers in 1954. Though still outlawed during the 30-year rule of Hosni
Mubarak, it ran a large welfare network and its members ran as independents in
After decades of operating in the shadows and winning
support with its charities and preaching, the Brotherhood registered itself as
a non-governmental organisation in March in response to a court challenge by
people contesting its legality.
It also has a registered political arm, the Freedom and
Justice Party (FJP), set up in 2011 after Mubarak's overthrow in an uprising.
The Brotherhood won all five national votes held since 2011, including Morsi’s
election as president last year.
But Morsi alienated swathes of Egyptians during his year in
power and, after mass protests, the army removed him on 3 July.
More than 1 000 people, including about 100 police and
soldiers, have since been killed in the worst internal violence in the Egyptian
republic's history. Most died when the security forces dispersed two pro-Morsi
protest camps on 14 August. State media have described the crackdown as a war
With the Brotherhood in shock, protests that it called last
Friday mostly failed to materialise.
The National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the
Coup, which includes the Brotherhood and demands Morsi’s reinstatement,
promised protests in the streets and squares of all of Egypt's 27 provinces
this Friday and said it would "activate a plan of peaceful civil
The newspaper run by the Brotherhood's FJP ran an
advertisement under the banner "Boycott the murderers", urging
citizens not to watch the television channels of the "old regime";
not to pay taxes to "the government that is killing us"; and not to
buy products made by companies that it accused of supporting the
military-backed interim government.
The government says it will call parliamentary and
presidential elections within months, after the passage of a new constitution.