Egypt's 'Rebel' campaign planning false-flag attacks on 30 June rallies: Islamist figure

Sherif Tarek , Monday 10 Jun 2013

Anti-Morsi 'Rebel' campaigners plan to gun down their own people during planned 30 June anti-government rallies in hopes of discrediting their Islamist rivals, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya's Assem Abdel-Maged contends

Assem Abdel-Maged
Assem Abdel-Maged, a leading figure of the Islamist ultra-conservative group Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Assem Abdel-Maged, a leading member of Egypt's ultra-conservative Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya movement, asserted on Sunday that the anti-government 'Rebel' (Tamarod) campaign planned to kill its own protesters during planned 30 June rallies in hopes of turning public opinion against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails.

The 'Rebel' campaign, a signature drive launched in May with the intention of "withdrawing confidence" from Morsi by collecting 15 million citizens' endorsements, has called for mass protests on 30 June to demand Morsi's ouster.

Morsi was elected last year in Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential elections.

However, the campaign, which announced on 29 May that it has collected seven million signatures, accuses the Morsi administration of "failing to implement policies to improve the life for ordinary people."

The acid-tongued Abdel-Maged, known for his staunch support of the president, said in a Sunday evening interview on the Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt 25 satellite television channel that 'Rebel' campaigners would "send hired thugs to impersonate members of Palestine's Hamas and gun down their own protesters."

Hamas, which is an ideological offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, has been accused of involvement in Egypt's 2011 uprising that culminated in the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak. It has been alleged that Gaza's ruling Islamist movement was responsible for nationwide prison breaks during the uprising.

"This is the information we have," Abdel-Maged said. "I'm saying this so that the security apparatuses might take action. I know that they won't, but I've done my duty [by reporting planned false-flag attacks]."

Citing Egypt's increasingly dire economic situation, the 'Rebel' campaign has called for nationwide protests on 30 June to coincide with the end of Morsi's first year as president.

Morsi narrowly defeated rival Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt's last Mubarak-era prime minister, in presidential elections one year ago.

Abdel-Maged believes that Shafiq's considerable support base is supporting the 'Rebel' campaign, which seeks to gather more citizens' endorsements than the roughly 13 million votes garnered by Morsi in last year's presidential polls.

He also said that 'Rebel' campaign organisers were "begging for the support of [Egypt's Coptic Orthodox] church."

"They are the counter-revolution and corrupt [Mubarak-era] businessmen," Abdel-Maged elaborated, contending that President Morsi's supporters would defend him – and his democratic legitimacy – "by any means necessary."

Abdel-Maged did not rule out the possibility that Morsi supporters might use force to abort the planned protests, saying that "there is no limit to what might be done to protect the legitimacy [of the president] and the state."

He added: "If you [anti-Morsi protesters] attempt to bring down the government, I will stage a powerful Islamic revolution... and you will be treated as enemies of the state."

Al-Jamaa resorted to the use of violence in the 1980s and 1990s in response to repressive policies – including arrest and torture – employed against Islamists by the Mubarak regime.

The group is best known for its role in the assassination of president Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981. It was also responsible for a string of deadly attacks stretching over a period of almost two decades.

Security forces eventually came down hard on the group, and its presence has been barely felt for more than a decade.

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya eventually "opted to take the political route after the popular uprising paved the way for real democracy," as the group declared when announcing the establishment of its political arm, the Building and Development Party, in June 2011.

But even after the revolution, some of the group's more radical views – on women and Copts, for instance – continue to stir controversy, along with its repeated threats to use violence against opposition protesters.

Former MP Mustafa El-Naggar has warned that the planned 30 June protests could mark the beginning of a "full-scale civil war" in Egypt.

He has urged Islamist parties and groups not to stage any counter-protests against the planned anti-Morsi rallies, going on to condemn what he describes as "inflammatory rhetoric" by many Islamist figures.

Most Egyptian opposition parties and groups have endorsed the planned protests, including the main opposition umbrella group, the National Salvation Front, which is led by former presidential hopefuls Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa. 

Short link: