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Egypt, a brutal regime: Tamimi

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“For people in South Africa who are familiar with the Apartheid years, the current regime in Cairo is very similar to its tactics of suppressing people, imprisoning them, sentencing them to death, and killing them at random. It is a very brutal regime that sees power in sheer military strength, and wants to remain in power as long as it can.” These were the words of British Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi, commenting on the sentencing of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi.

A Cairo court on Tuesday officially sentenced the former Egyptian president, to 20 years imprisonment on charges of inciting the killing of protesters. This was in relation to an incident in December 2012 where 10 people were killed outside the presidential palace during protests against his rule. Morsi was subsequently ousted during a coup d’état, led by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in July the following year.

Although global protests followed what many deemed as an ‘unlawful’ deposing of the Muslim Brotherhood leader, little response has come from the international community following his sentencing. 12 other Brotherhood officials were also given similar sentences.

The sentencing however came as no surprise to Tamimi, a scholar on Islamic political Thought and Islamic movements, considering some of the harsher sentences handed out in recent months; including 500 Brotherhood members now facing the death penalty. He described Morsi, and the Egyptian people at large, as victims of crime on the part of the current regime.

Things could have been far worse for the jailed Brotherhood leader had he not been acquitted of murder charges, which could likely have led to the death penalty. He also currently faces charges in three other cases, including that of allegedly leaking intelligence of national security to a foreign state, in this case Qatar.

Whilst Morsi’s reign may have been beset with criticism and protests, Tamimi said Egypt’s decline during that period could not be attributed to mistakes on his part, rather the counter-revolutionaries throughout the Arab world.

“It’s all part of the same orchestrated campaign, funded and led by Arab monarchies, who were terrified at the prospect that the Arab spring which brought about changes in these countries may one day knock on their doors,” said Tamimi, the editor-in-chief of Alhiwar TV Channel.

Within Egypt itself, these counter-revolutionaries may well have collaborated with the elite from the former regime of Hosni Mubarak. According to the scholar, many of those “elite” were now retaking their places within the current Egyptian government.

Tamimi stressed that the turmoil currently being seen across the Arab world was not something unique to the region, recalling similar historic upheaval during the French Revolution of the 1700s, as well as the revolutions of Latin America, many of which took decades to stabilize.

“It was probably a mistake on our part to be overly optimistic that the Arab Spring would bring change peacefully and swiftly. That is not the case, and there will always be counter-revolutionary forces that will try and hinder this transformation,” he said, adding that their cause would eventually fail with democracy prevailing.

There was also room for criticism of the Obama administration in the US, especially in its dealings with Arab and Gulf countries. He declared the current US government as “completely confused as to what it should be doing”.

With much of the Obama’s current term focusing on improving relations with Iran, Tamimi said this was to the expense of other issues in the region. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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