The Egyptian regime apparently intends to commemorate the upcoming two-year anniversary of its December 28, 2011 raid on numerous NGOs’ offices with a new, expanded crackdown on members of the secular opposition. On December 19, Egyptian police raided the offices of the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights, and froze the bank accounts of many NGOs. Then, on Sunday, December 22, three leading activists, Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel, and Ahmed Douma, were sentenced to three years in jail. In a piece entitled, “In Egypt, the ‘revolution’ is eating its young,” Dan Murphy discusses their conviction, and its wider implications.
Now it appears that Egypt’s interim military government is not going to risk another such outburst. “The Ministry of Interior’s pursuit of these four activists is a deliberate effort to target the voices who, since January 2011, have consistently demanded justice and security agency reform,” Sarah Lee Whitson, the Human Rights Watch director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement before the sentencing. “It should come as no surprise that with the persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood well underway, the Ministry of Interior is now targeting leaders of the secular protest movement.”
Maher, like many secular activists, backed the protests against Morsi in the middle of the summer, and was pleased at the time that the military deposed the Brotherhood leader. He quickly grew disillusioned, as he found that the military and security apparatus of Egypt he’d opposed before Mubarak’s downfall was much the same as it has always been.
In August, he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post that his support for the military-backed interim government had been conditional on the military not interfering in politics. By that point he’d found that interference was their middle name – particularly in the passage of the law that saw him jailed today.
Our support for the transitional road map to new elections was predicated on the military’s pledge that it would not interfere in Egypt’s political life. The expanding role of the military in the political process that we are nonetheless witnessing is disconcerting…
Moreover, I cannot accept that, once again, the government is exerting control over the media on the pretext of the war on terror. Based on my previous experiences with the military — I was arrested and beaten for my activism in 2008 — I cannot help but fear that I may be accused of terrorism if I criticize the new regime…
Despite my support for the June 30 revolutionary wave, and despite the fact that it was a people’s movement before it was a military intervention, I now see much to fear. I fear the insurrection against the principles of the Jan. 25 revolution, the continued trampling of human rights and the expansion of restrictive measures in the name of the war on terror — lest any opponent of the authorities be branded a terrorist.
Maher and his friends opposed Mubarak and, eventually, won. He opposed Morsi and won.
The military in Egypt has sent the message today that they are not interested in him winning again.