Brotherhood charities may impact Egypt’s referendum

January 14, 2014 - 4:54:40 am

Cairo: A crackdown by Egypt’s authorities on the Muslim Brotherhood has left hundreds of Islamic charities struggling for funds, with experts warning the move could impact this week’s referendum on a new constitution.

The Tuesday-Wednesday vote has been billed as the first step in Egypt’s democratic transition after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July following huge protests against his one-year rule.

The government installed by the military after Morsi’s ouster has seized assets, bank accounts, hospitals, schools and institutions run by Islamic charities as part of its crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Analysts say Mursi’s supporters, who have been clamouring for his reinstatement, are likely to find backing for their call for a boycott of the referendum among grassroots Egyptians who are dependent on the charities.

“These charities will definitely have an impact on the referendum. The turnout will be much less this time,” analyst Osama Diab of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said. “The focus of the Muslim Brotherhood is to ensure a low turnout and the Islamic charities can influence people for that. They can mobilise people through these charities to guarantee a low turnout,” said Diab. 

Mustafa Kamel Al Sayyed, professor of political science at Cairo University, agreed.

“The Muslim Brotherhood could use charity networks for mobilising people to boycott the referendum or elections, given their influence on the people,” he said.AFP