12/09/2013, 00.00
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The confrontation between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood blocking Egyptian reconciliation

The military responded to the chaos caused by the Muslim Brotherhood with mass arrests and a crackdown on its schools. Young secular protesters are arrested under new anti-demonstration legislation. For Mohammed Osman, an official with an Egyptian political party, national reconciliation is still far away. Army and Islamists aim to boycott each other.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - As Egypt's General al-Sisi wins TIME's Person of the Year Poll with more than 400,000 votes, the country itself appears increasingly at the mercy of an ideological confrontation and hatred that are blocking national reconciliation in a society divided between supporters of the new military-backed government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to Mohammed Osman, political liaison officer for the Strong Egypt Party, reconciliation is currently out of the question, especially since the strongest parties in the conflict - the military and the Muslim Brotherhood - are both preoccupied with the upcoming constitutional referendum. The army wants passage of a new constitution, whilst the Brotherhood is trying to ensure its failure in hopes of toppling the military.

As a result of the confrontation between the military and Islamists, the youth that led the uprising against Mubarak have become victims of the notorious anti-demonstration law adopted in November.

Yesterday, a court in Cairo set 22 December as the day for the last session of the trial against Ahmed Doma, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Maher, who played a leading role in the uprising against Mubarak.

The three were arrested on 30 November for organising an unauthorised sit-in in front of Parliament to protest the law on demonstrations.

The charges against Doma, Adel and Maher include attacking public officials, a crime (disputed by the defendants) that could cost them several years in prison.

The anti-protest law has also affected the Brotherhood.  Twenty-one women from the movement were arrested in November in Alexandria and sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegal demonstration, membership in terrorist groups and attacks against law enforcement officials.

After several appeals by human rights organisations, the young women, including an 11-year-old girl, were released on Saturday.

In addition to the arrests of activists, the crackdown came down hard on private schools run by the Brotherhood. In fact, today the Education Ministry announced the closure of 62 schools because of a rule that bans Brotherhood members from sitting on school boards.

According Nervana Mahmoud, writing on Al-Monitor, "reconciliation" is a term rarely used in Egypt, and political parties and factions exploit this aspect of society. Indeed, "People are instead fascinated by revenge and blame games," she explained.

One example is the speed with which leaders rise and fall. After hearing the 'mantra' of the values ​​of the Revolution, Mohamed Morsi was dubbed the new Nelson Mandela of Egypt in 2012, even abroad, despite his one-sided policies and his inability to heal the divisions among the Egyptians.

He too was deposed in the name of the Arab Spring when 30 million people took to the streets on 30 June, following a petition launched by the Tamarud movement.

Even in this case, instead of reconciliation, the new rulers led by General al-Sisi limited dialogue and chose instead to arrest all Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi.

For Mahmoud, Egyptian politics have always been like an inverted pyramid. The base does not choose the top; it is the top that manipulates public opinion whether they are Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, Mubarak, Morsi and now al-Sisi.

After two uprisings, one in January 2011 and the other June 2013, the pyramid is inverted again.

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See also
Christians and Muslims in Tahrir Square want the military to quit
The military’s disturbing ‘no’ to international election observers
Secular activists against Egypt's new "authoritarian" law on demonstrations
Muslim Brotherhood against journalists and judges who criticise Morsi
Law to stifle protest and demonstrations


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