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Cairo – Egypt’s latest crackdown on Morsi supporters and sympathizers now affects the country’s mosques. Fifty-five thousand “unlicensed” imams will be prohibited from giving sermons in mosques and small mosques are being closed. “Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Goma said the ministry would limit prayers to mosques controlled by the ministry, allow only Al-Azhar-qualified imams to preach in mosques, shut down small mosques that are often led by independent imams, and ban donations from inside mosques that "go to those who do not fear God,” Al Ahram reported.


“The ban will mainly target small unlicensed mosques or random praying areas. The idea is to spread a moderate message of Islam and keep Egyptians away from radical ideas,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. This decision has caused a stir amongst the Nour Party—Egypt’s largest Salafi party. “Sherif Taha, spokesperson for the Nour Party, criticised the move, claiming mosques were already crowded during Friday prayers and it would become worse if small, neighbourhood mosques were closed,” according to Al Ahram.


Morsi’s largest supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood, are suffering another setback in it’s mission to restore democracy to Egypt. “Egypt's army-backed government has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered non-governmental organization, a state-run newspaper reported, pressing a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's movement,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. The Egyptian interim government discussed disbanding the Brotherhood in recent months; however, the decision comes after a bomb exploded injuring more than 20 people on a major thoroughfare in Cairo. Authorities say it was an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. The Brotherhood denies involvement and condemned the attack. "We reject any attempt to assassinate any leader or politician, and our ideology stands against violence and murder," Brotherhood leader Mamdouh al-Husseiny told Al-Masry Al-Youm.


“A Suez military court has given 11 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters life sentences relating to charges of violence following the dispersal of pro-Mohamed Morsy sit-ins in Cairo and Giza recently,” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.  The crackdown began with a wave of mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members for a variety of charges—the most commonly cited charge is incitement of violence. Egyptian security forces continue carrying out arrests of the group’s leaders and members. “Egyptian police are making "extensive efforts" to overcome “extremist hotbeds," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said,” Al Ahram reported.


Prior to his recent arrest for charges including incitement of violence at the Republican Guard Headquarters, organizing a terrorist gang and murder, Mohamed El-Beltagy—who was hiding from authorities at the time—said in a video aired on al-Jazeera station, “Egyptian authorities have no shred of evidence the group engaged in any terrorist acts, as alleged by the Egyptian government,” Al Ahram reported.

 

El-Beltagy exposed contradictions in Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s actions toward the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi promoted el-Sisi to defense minister, yet it begs the question, how could he accept working in a parliament alongside ministers who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood—an alleged terrorist group? "Why hadn't he noticed anything related to the terrorism of the Brotherhood all these years?" El-Beltagy asked in the video. "How was he head of military intelligence and yet allowed a member of a terrorist group to be nominated for president," reported Al Ahram.


The constant barrage of media propaganda against the Muslim Brotherhood has incited people to form lynch mobs or become neighborhood vigilantes; therefore, people are always on guard. “The ouster of Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has set off something of a witch hunt against those perceived as being his supporters. The campaign has been fed by domestic media, which has broadcast around-the-clock images of bearded gunmen allegedly firing at security forces during demonstrations.” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.


Clinging to their demands in recent demonstrations and rallies—though in smaller numbers—Morsi supporters continue calling for the return of democracy and protesting against the military. With such continued public defiance, it remains to be seen what further measures will be taken against the government-dissolved Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-Morsi groups and how such actions affect the rest of Egypt.

 

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