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Africa

Morsi ousting galvanises radical Islamists

©

Text by Marc DAOU

Latest update : 2013-07-05

Egyptian Islamists are angry as they accuse the army of robbing them of their president, who belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of the most radical Islamists have suggested they will take action.

Though the ousting of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, on July 3 was welcomed by millions of Egyptians who took to Tahrir Square to celebrate, not everyone in the North African country was happy.

In certain neighbourhoods in the capital of Cairo, as well as in other Egyptian cities, Islamists voiced frustration and anger at what they saw as the army robbing them of their president, who belonged to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement.

On Thursday, the arrest of several high-ranking members of the Brotherhood only intensified the anger of the movement’s partisans.

On Friday, the National Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy, which unites the main Islamist movements of Egypt, called for mass protests marking a “day of rejection” against the “military coup d’état”.

Calls for jihad in the Sinai

On Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood indicated that it was “unlikely” that they would take up arms after Morsi’s ousting, but the tone has gotten more virulent among Islamists. “It was our last experience with democracy – forget democracy,” was the status posted on a Salafist Facebook page under the name of Assalafi Assahabi, which counts more than 200,000 followers and regularly communicates messages from religious extremists.

Some Egyptian Islamists have suggested that they will not protest “peacefully”, as urged by the National Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy. By getting rid of Morsi, the Egyptian army indeed took the risk of riling the most extreme fringe groups of the Islamist movement, some of which have publicly vowed to commit acts of violence as revenge.

Moreover, some groups called for jihad, particularly in the Sinai peninsula, a region that borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The Sinai has seen a rise in jihadist movements since 2011, with kidnappings and attacks targeting Egyptian security forces becoming increasingly frequent in the wake of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ousting in February 2011.

On Friday morning, military targets were attacked in the Sinai (in El Arish and Rafah, near the Gaza border), with one soldier killed and two others injured. The Egyptian authorities responded by closing the border crossing between Rafah and the Gaza Strip.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, and no links have been established with the current political situation in Egypt.

‘A new al Qaeda in Egypt’

Nevertheless, videos posted over the past few days on the website of Yqeennews2, a TV channel with Islamist ties, show a pro-Morsi rally in the Sinai at which leaders can be heard calling for jihad in retaliation for the “coup d’état”.

In another video, filmed at the same demonstration and seen more than 273,000 times onYouTube, a radical Islamist warns that kamikaze groups will quickly form. “[Egyptian Colonel General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi], know that you have created a new Taliban and a new al Qaeda in Egypt,” the radical threatens. “These kamikaze groups are going to get organised and destroy you…you have created new jihadists…know that if one out of ten of them blows himself up, you are responsible.”

The intervention of the army in Egypt’s political affairs, and the subsequent undermining of the Islamists, could now be exploited by the most radical groups, including al Qaeda.

After all, al Qaeda has always said that one must expect nothing of democracy – and that democracy would lead nowhere.

 

Date created : 2013-07-05

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