Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh dismissed Egypt’s official designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terror group” on Tuesday night and reaffirmed ties between his Palestinian faction and its Egyptian affiliate.
“We reject such a classification for the Muslim Brotherhood group. No one, regardless of its influence, can push Hamas or any of the Palestinian resistance factions to abandon their ideology, abandon their history,” Haniyeh said.
“It is unlikely that any Arab country, and Egypt in particular, could categorize an effective and influential Palestinian resistance movement as a terrorist movement,” he said.
Haniyeh’s condemnation came days after the Egyptian government made the “terrorist” designation by linking the Brotherhood to a wave of recent militant attacks targeting security forces without publicly presenting any evidence to back its claim. The move signaled a new era of zero tolerance toward the group and ended reconciliation efforts. The Muslim Brotherhood was first banned by a court order in September.
Hamas itself emerged as a break-off movement of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987, and the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi on July 3 was largely considered a blow to the Gaza-based Palestinian faction. However, in his address on Tuesday, Haniyeh also emphasized the strength of ties between Hamas and the current Egyptian leadership.
“We seek to reaffirm that we do not intervene in Egyptian internal affairs. Egypt cannot do without us and we cannot do with Egypt. These historical, geographic and security links can never be severed,” he said.
On Tuesday, Egypt’s interim government ordered the assets of more than 500 Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders seized — including those of the country’s ousted president — as part of an ever-tightening crackdown on the group, senior judicial and security officials said.
Abdel-Azim el-Ashri, a Justice Ministry spokesman, said that a ministerial inventory committee ordered the “movable and immovable properties” of 572 Muslim Brotherhood leaders seized. Another Justice Ministry official said leaders on the list included toppled President Mohammed Morsi and his family, as well as provincial Brotherhood leaders and members of its General Guidance Bureau, which is the group’s executive body.
A security official said the list also included female Muslim Brotherhood members like Azza el-Garf and wife of leader Khairat el-Shater and his daughter. He said other Islamist leaders include Assem Abdel-Maged, the leader of Gamaa Islamiyah, which waged an anti-government insurgency in 1990s against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood denies being involved in the attacks and continues to hold near-daily protests demanding the reinstatement of Morsi, toppled in a military coup after millions rallied against him. Islamic militant groups have claimed responsibility for the bombings and shootings. During his year-long presidency, Morsi allied with hard-line Islamists and held talks with militants in the Sinai Peninsula to negotiate a truce.