RECOMMENDED READING: “As Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Retreats, Members Come Under Extreme Pressure”


Reuters has published an articled titled “As Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Retreats, Members Come Under Extreme Pressure” that looks at the dismantling of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood  infrastructure by the current government. The article begins:

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Oct 28 (Reuters) – In Egypt’s second city, medical student Ahmed Nabil lives in fear that the police may come and arrest him any day. As a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he is part of a movement facing an onslaught by the security forces which toppled Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July.

‘These days we can be picked up at any time,’ said Nabil, whose parents are also members of the organization, Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement and a supporter of Morsi.

The Brotherhood’s discipline and hierarchy helped it win elections after the 2011 popular uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, eventually propelling Morsi into power. But now the army-led government and its supporters regard the Brotherhood as a terrorist group and enemy of the state. The security forces and police, feared and despised under Mubarak, are lauded for cracking down on the organization.

The Brotherhood denounces violence and says it is committed to peaceful protest. But as members go into hiding, its key building blocks – local groups of seven members known as usras – are under pressure.

‘The most important person for me is the head of my usra,’ said Nabil. ‘I get everything from him.’

In Nabil’s eyes, the usras, which provide everything from Koran studies to marriage counseling, are crumbling. That raises the risk the organization will fracture, and that some members will abandon peaceful activism to take up arms.

In a sign of how the Brotherhood is retreating, Nabil has bought a new, unregistered mobile phone. He encrypts text messages and is careful about what he writes on Facebook, fearful that the authorities are monitoring communications.

Nabil said he has lost five friends killed in demonstrations and that he narrowly escaped arrest when he took part in a protest. He worries about survival and avoiding jail. The clampdown, he said, could radicalize some members.

This month suspected militants killed six Egyptian soldiers near the Suez Canal, fired rocket propelled grenades at a state satellite station in Cairo and exploded a car bomb near an Egyptian army intelligence building in the city of Ismailia. More than 50 people have been killed and more than 270 wounded in recent clashes between the police and protesters supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Read the rest here.

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