Cairo: Egypt’s caretaker Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi has said he believes the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organisation, as the Islamist group is the target of the toughest security crackdown in years.
“At the personal, political and intellectual levels, I see the Brotherhood as a terrorist group,” Al Beblawi told the private broadcaster Dream TV late on Monday. “Its accumulated history proves that it has used terrorism to achieve political goals. This is the core of terrorism.”
An Egyptian court in September banned the Brotherhood and ordered its assets be frozen. The group, which was set up by schoolteacher Hassan Al Banna in 1928, dismissed the ban as politically motivated.
Hundreds of the Brotherhood’s followers, including senior officials, have been rounded up since July when the army deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following major street protests against his one-year-old rule. Mursi, who hails from the Brotherhood, is also in detention and charged with inciting the killing of anti-Islamist Brotherhood.
“I cannot issue a decree listing the Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Only courts can do this,” Al Beblawi said. “Egypt is a state where law rules and criminalises terrorism. The executive power has no jurisdiction in this. It is up to prosecution and courts.”
Al Beblawi, who took office after Mursi’s overthrow, has been under increasing pressure from Brotherhood’s opponents to designate the group as terrorist after a series of deadly attacks on security forces and churches blamed on insurgents allegedly linked to the Brotherhood. The group, which has condemned Mursi’s removal as a coup, has denied involvement in these attacks.
Meanwhile, police on Tuesday detained former Islamist judge and ex-MP Mahmoud Al Khudeiri at his house in the coastal city of Alexandria, security sources said.
The Brotherhood slammed Al Khudeiri’s arrest. “His detention proves that the coup leaders have lost their minds and been blinded by their lust for power,” added the group on its website.
Al Khudeiri, 73, was arrested upon an order from prosecutors on charges of inciting violence, added the sources. Scores of detained Islamists face the same charges.