Egypt Army Chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi & Former president Mohammed Mursi
CAIRO: Egypt’s military-installed rulers declared the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohammed Mursi a “terrorist” organisation yesterday, signalling a wider crackdown after blaming it for a deadly police station bombing claimed by jihadists.
A Muslim Brotherhood leader lambasted the “drastic” decision and vowed the movement would keep up its protests across Egypt, despite the move which is unprecedented for the 85-year-old movement.
The decision is likely to accelerate a crackdown on the movement that has killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, in street clashes and seen thousands imprisoned since Mursi’s overthrow by the military in July.
It lumps together Al Qaeda-inspired militants who have killed scores of policemen and soldiers with the more moderate Brotherhood movement, although authorities have provided no proof the groups are related.
The announcement comes a day after a suicide car bombing of a police station killed 15 people, in an attack condemned by the Brotherhood and claimed by an Al Qaeda-inspired group based in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
“All of Egypt was horrified by the ugly crime committed by the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday morning, when it blew up the Daqhaleya police headquarters,” the cabinet said in a statement.
“The government has decided to declare the Muslim Brotherhood movement a terrorist organisation,” it said, referring to terrorism clauses in the country’s penal code.
“Members who continue to belong to this group or organisation following the release of this statement will be punished according to the law,” said the statement. The Brotherhood has condemned yesterday’s powerful bomb attack in the city of Mansoura, north of Cairo.
One of the few senior leaders of the Brotherhood to have avoided prison told AFP the Islamists would continue with their protests.
“The protests will continue, certainly,” said Ibrahim Munir, a member of the group’s executive council who is in exile in London, adding the move was “illegitimate”.
“This is an attempt to frame the Brotherhood.”
Mursi’s supporters, who continue to organise near-daily demonstrations demanding his reinstatement, insist they are committed to peaceful protest.
But their demonstrations have dwindled in size due to the security crackdown, and civilian opponents who oppose the Islamists often attack the rallies.AFP