08/20/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

Muslim Brotherhood against journalists and judges who criticise Morsi

TV host Tawfiq Okasha is accused of insulting Islam after he broadcast the ritual execution of an apostate. President Morsi wants him banned from all TV channels. The Muslim Brotherhood wants to eliminate all anti-Islamist judges and control the Constitutional Court.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Fearing a drop in popular support, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is trying to silence its critics. In the past few months, journalist Tawfiq Okasha (pictured) has been one of the loudest voices speaking out against the Brotherhood and President Mohammed al-Morsi. As a result, he has been accused of defaming the president and portraying Islam in a bad light, opening him up to attacks.

Okasha is a well-known TV presenter and owner of a satellite channel, Al Fara'een. He has always been a staunch critic of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. In the past, he even showed a young man having his throat cut in a ritual execution for apostasy.

He also went after Egypt's intelligence chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Seesy, accusing him of being a paid agent of Qatar and having favoured Morsi's election as president of Egypt. In fact, in last June's election, Morsi defeated Ahmed Shafiq, who raised doubts about the fairness of the elections since many Copts (up to half in his opinion) were not able to vote.

Given his outspokenness, Okasha has been accused of slandering Islam and causing sectarian divisions, as well as uttering "intentaional falsehoods and accusations that amount to defamation and slander" against Presidetn Morsi. The latter, for his part, has called for Okasha to be banned from TV. Meanwhile, Okasha is scheduled to appear in court on 1 September.

In light of the atmosphere, an Egyptian NGO, the Union of Lawyers for Legal Studies, said in a statement that lawyers should defend Okasha because "Defending Okasha is defending freedom of opinion and expression, which must be guaranteed to all after the revolution, whether pro- or anti-government."

At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to extend its control over the country's justice system and the courts. The new Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki, who was in favour of judicial independence during the Mubarak era, now wants to purge all Mubarak-era jurists. In his opinion, purging the judges is another step in Egypt's revolution.

Conversely, other observers view Mekki's plans as a way to purge anti-Islamist judges and place the court system under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Until now, courts have remained the only institution that has not yet bent to the will of the Brotherhood.

Islamists are especially eager to clip the wings of the Constitutional Court, guilty in their view of declaring unconstitutional the Islamist-Salafist-controlled parliament, which had been elected at the start of the year.

Since parliamentary and presidential elections were held, the Muslim Brotherhood has lost about 40 per cent of its support. Thus, all the moves it is currently undertaking are an attempt to maintain its absolute majority in parliament, and avoid a defeat in next year's parliamentary elections.

 

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