CAIRO: A number of Egyptian human rights organizations released Wednesday a joint press release demanding an end to clampdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood by police authorities, urging the press and civil society to speak out.
“Keeping silent about the continuous police campaign against hundreds of Egyptian citizens because of their membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is a participation in the systemic oppression (of the group), the cosignatory organizations stated.
According to Ahmed Seif, director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, the rights groups initiated the joint statement in an effort to “change the attitude against the Brotherhood within the media and civil society.
The signatories, which include the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo), the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies, and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, expressed their worries over alleged increased oppression of MB members, referring to “suspension of university students because of their affiliation to the Brotherhood.
According to Ibrahim El-Houdaiby, member of the Brotherhood and board member of Ikhwanweb.com, there has been an escalation of MB arrests since the 2005 parliamentary elections, in which candidates affiliated with the group won a fifth of the seats.
“A few months after the elections when the regime got over its shock period, it started to roll back on the Brotherhood. Those who were arrested were strong organizational leaders from all fields. Their top priority now is undermining our ability to mobilize people in the streets, El-Houdaiby said in an email interview with Daily News Egypt.
Despite the reported heightened crackdown of the banned organization, however, the signatories stress that local media provides miniscule coverage of arrests and detentions of Brotherhood affiliates with the exception of brief reports in independent newspapers.
“News about random police campaigns and detentions of MB members from most of the governorates of Egypt are considered unworthy of publishing in most of Egyptian newspapers, as if it is becoming a trivial thing to arrest Egyptian citizens because of their political opinions, said the groups.
Tarek Mounir, a senior member of the Press Syndicate, told Daily News Egypt that “it’s important to differentiate between the independent and government-run media on the issue.
“The state-affiliated papers will always linger on the government side and picture the Brotherhood as militants. The independent media is dealing with issues surrounding the Brotherhood objectively-sometimes in an almost compassionate way, Mounir said.
El-Houdaiby on the other hand, argued that he “does not think the press is keeping silent and reiterated that “some people do speak out against what’s happening.
On the same token, El-Houdaiby maintains that Egyptian media is subject to censorship and even threats at times in their coverage of MB affairs.
Seif added that the press might be “scared to report on the Brotherhood.
The signing organizations are asking the independent media and civil society to not “participate in the crime of keeping silent about the oppression of Egyptian citizens.