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Egypt uprising ‘inevitable’ due to Sissi’s oppression, say Muslim Brothers

Spokesman for Islamic movement, whose members have been killed, imprisoned or chased out by Cairo regime, says current leader’s rule more damaging than Mubarak’s

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Talaat Fahmy speaks during an interview in his office in Istanbul, January 19, 2021. (Bulent Kilic / AFP)
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Talaat Fahmy speaks during an interview in his office in Istanbul, January 19, 2021. (Bulent Kilic / AFP)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — Hounded by Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi after briefly rising to power following the Arab Spring uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood sees a new revolution sweeping aside the current regime.

“No injustice can last forever,” Talaat Fahmy, the Islamic movement’s official spokesman, told AFP in Istanbul.

“People’s patience and ability to tolerate what is happening is not eternal. A street uprising is inevitable, although I cannot predict a precise date,” he said.

Killed, imprisoned and chased into exile by Sissi, the Muslim Brotherhood had enjoyed a fleeting hold on power after people power in Egypt toppled the late president Hosni Mubarak.

Their candidate Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012.

But Morsi was overthrown by the army when Sissi was at its helm, and the movement’s members have ever since been the victims of relentless repression — which they vow to surmount.

“The Muslim Brotherhood movement is 93 years old and it has seen similar travails under (former Egyptian president) Gamal Abdel Nasser from 1954 until the release of its leaders from prison in 1974,” said Fahmy.

“The group did not disappear. It did not cut off contacts with those members over all those years. The Muslim Brotherhood knows how to communicate with its members, adapting to the security and political circumstances,” he said.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, not seen at the Elysee palace, in Paris, December 7, 2020. (Michel Euler/AP)

Jailed eight times during the three-decade rule of Mubarak, Fahmy left Egypt and settled in Istanbul in 2015 after spending two years in prison under Sissi.

He considers Sissi’s rule even more damaging to his country than that of Mubarak, who died in February 2020, and accuses Sissi of overseeing a “bloodthirsty regime that rules with an iron fist.”

‘Brink of implosion’

“The situation in Egypt today is worse than it was under Mubarak, who tried to maintain a certain balance, while the current regime does not care,” Fahmy said. “No change in Egypt is possible through elections under the current regime.”

Fahmy thinks Western powers that once gave Sissi the benefit of the doubt because he presented himself as an ally in the fight against radical Islam “are beginning to realize that he is leading the country to the brink of an implosion.”

“Egypt under Sissi’s rule has no future. You just have to see how the army is taking over national companies and imprisoning businessmen…. The army now controls between 70 and 80 percent of the economy and the country’s businesses.”

Demonstrators participate in a protest against the execution in Egypt of nine suspected Muslim Brotherhood members convicted of involvement in the 2015 assassination of the country’s top prosecutor, in front of Egypt’s consulate in Istanbul, March 2, 2019. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

Fahmy also expressed little fear at the repercussions of this month’s reconciliations between Qatar — where some of the group’s members have fled to — and its regional rivals in the Gulf and Egypt, which have branded the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization.”

The movement “is not dependent on this or that government, and all the financial aid it receives comes from the group’s own members,” he said.

“We do not receive any support from Qatar or Turkey,” said Fahmy, stressing that the only help the group gets from Ankara is the authorization to be present in the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling party is rooted in political Islam, regularly refers to Sissi as a “coup leader” and accuses Egyptian authorities of “killing” Morsi, who died in 2019 after collapsing in court during his trial.

“We never embarrass the country we are present in and do nothing to violate its law and traditions,” Fahmy said.

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