Brotherhood sees Egypt 'coup' fuelling hatred of West

Reuters , Sunday 7 Jul 2013

Senior MB member warns the West of supporting the military overthrow of Mohamed Morsi

el beltagy

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood believes Western governments fully supported the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, a decision it says will fuel hatred towards the United States and Europe and ultimately backfire on them.

Mohamed El-Beltagy, a senior Brotherhood politician, said everyone would lose, including the West, from violence that could result from the removal of Morsi - Egypt's first freely elected head of state who served just one year in office.

"We feel, with great regret, that the international community is somehow intervening in recognition and support of the military coup," Beltagy told Reuters in an interview.

"This restores the state of hatred towards those European and American nations whose states always stand with despotic regimes against nations looking for freedom," he added.

His remarks point to Islamist anger at Western states over their failure to punish the military for toppling Morsi in a move spurred on by mass protests against his rule.

Beltagy also flagged concerns that Morsi's removal would trigger violence by Islamists who would see no point in democratic processes that the mainstream Brotherhood had worked hard to bring them into.

To the Islamists, the West's policy towards Morsi's removal marks a return to the double standards of the Hosni Mubarak era. During his 30 years in power, Egypt received billions of dollars of aid from Europe and the United States, but made little or no progress towards democracy.

Both the United States and the European Union have refrained from calling the army's removal of Morsi a coup - a label that would likely result in sanctions against a country of vital strategic importance, sitting at the crossroads of three continents and bordering Israel.

The United States, which donates $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt each year, expressed "deep concern".

And the European Union, Egypt's biggest civilian donor, called for a speedy return to democratic process.

But neither condemned the takeover. The army says it was responding to the popular will - a view echoed by liberal and leftist groups.

Beltagy said Europe and America had shown themselves to be "supporters of despotism, and supporters of oppression". Accepting the legitimacy of the army takeover was tantamount to accepting the "law of the jungle", he said.

"I will not leave"

He was speaking at a Muslim Brotherhood protest camp outside a mosque in northeast Cairo. The group has said it will stay in the street until Morsi returns to the presidency. The alternative, it says, is passive resistance until death.

"Our bare chests are stronger than bullets," said Beltagy.

Several of the group's top leaders have been arrested since Morsi was toppled and detained by the army.

Beltagy said he had narrowly avoided arrest two days ago when around a dozen men in plain clothes had tried to snatch him from the protest. They were stopped by Brotherhood supporters.

"I am here, I will not leave," he said.

After Mubarak was swept from power in 2011, Western states engaged the Brotherhood - a banned movement under Mubarak - and recognised Morsi as a democratically elected leader.

U.S. policy towards the Brotherhood angered its liberal opponents, who accused Washington of cozying up to the group.

Now, it is the other way around: the Islamists are accusing Washington of siding with the liberals. Some even go as far as claiming the United States had a role in what happened.

Responding to such claims, President Barack Obama said on Saturday the United States was not taking sides.

While the Brotherhood "has not and will not resort to violence", Beltagy has warned that Morsi's ouster risks pushing other Islamists to use force, echoing concern that it will radicalise youths angered by the failure of democracy.

He said: "When they see that the democratic experience has been quashed within one year ... and that constitutions have no value ... it could push others to despair and then violence in which I think everyone will lose, including the Western powers.

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