Egyptian Islamists seek to reassure opposition after Tunisia assassination

Reuters, AP, Ahram Online , Thursday 7 Feb 2013

Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups condemn killing of Tunisian opposition figure Shokry Belaid, seek to reassure domestic opposition figures that such violence will not come to Egypt

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya leader Aboud El-Zomor (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Following the killing of Tunisian opposition politician Shokri Belaid on Wednesday, Islamist figures in Egypt have attempted to reassure the country's non-Islamist opposition.

On Wednesday, Hussein Abdel-Ghany, spokesperson for the main opposition umbrella group, the National Salvation Front (NSF), expressed his fears of similar assassinations taking place in Egypt.

He stressed, however, that civil forces would continue their fight against the Islamist-dominated regime.

The Muslim Brotherhood and jihadists groups have used violence against Egyptian politicians in the past, Abdel-Ghany added.

In a comment on Twitter on Wednesday, NSF leader Mohamed ElBaradei criticised the government for its silence over an Al-Azhar professor of religious rhetoric's edict authorising the killing of opposition supporters.

Mahmoud Shaaban said last week on a television show that the opposition should be punished with death for seeking to bring down a democratically elected leader.

Salafist Nour Party spokesperson Nader Bakkar has called on Al-Azhar's grand imam to take action against Shaaban.

Bakkar stressed that it was everybody's right to oppose the president. If this was not the case, anyone who dared oppose former president Hosni Mubarak would have faced similar death threats.

"We condemn the assassination of prominent Tunisian opposition figure Shokri Belaid, who was shot dead in front of his house. It was a heinous crime which must not happen again,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Ahmed Aref said on Wednesday.

Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud demanded a speedy process in Tunisia to ensure the perpetrators are put on trial.

Abdel-Maksoud also refuted reports in the Egyptian media that Islamists had drawn up a hit list of liberal politicians and media figures.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leader Aboud El-Zomor said, "The practice of politics has to be carried out peacefully. Assassinations are totally unacceptable."

Nour Party Shura Council (parliament's upper house) representative Abdullah Betran stated his party's condemnation of the killing in Tunisia. "We condemn all forms of violence and the use of weapons in the face of ideology," he stated.

The killing of leftist politician Belaid on Wednesday sparked protests across Tunisia, with several offices of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda being torched.

Many saw the killing of Belaid outside his home as politically motivated. He was an outspoken critic of the Ennahda party and the Salafist movement in Tunisia. The latter has recently been involved in violent acts across the country.

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