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Egypt: Brotherhood crackdown continues to draw criticism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stand amid tear gas and the smoke of burning objects during a protest in Cairo on January 3, 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stand amid tear gas and the smoke of burning objects during a protest in Cairo on January 3, 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stand amid tear gas and the smoke of burning objects during a protest in Cairo on January 3, 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—As Egypt edges closer to a key nationwide referendum on a new constitution, Cairo continues to face a number of internal and external crises, particularly over a security crackdown targeting the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization.

While a number of countries have criticized the crackdown, inciting diplomatic crises with Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood itself is continuing to seek popular and legal redress.

On Monday, the Egyptian government took the decision to summon Mojtaba Amani, the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Cairo, the most senior Iranian diplomat in the country, to protest recent statements from Tehran.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdlelatty affirmed that “the ministry summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Cairo, Mojtaba Amani, to protest against Iranian statements about the situation in Egypt.”

He added that the Iranian comments represented an “unacceptable interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry issued an official statement just hours before summoning Amani, warning other countries against interfering in Egyptian affairs.

“We will not allow any country to intervene in our internal affairs,” the statement said, affirming “the Egyptian government’s right to take the necessary decisions to provide security for Egypt’s citizens and enforce public order.”

The statement added: “First and foremost, the Egyptian government is responsible to the people of Egypt.”

The latest diplomatic spat between Tehran and Cairo comes after Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said that Iran was concerned about the recent escalation in violence between the Egyptian military and pro-Mursi demonstrators, in which at least 20 people were killed last week.

International criticism of the government crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood has not been limited to Tehran.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry has also issued statements expressing concerns about the recent security crackdown in Egypt, warning that the government’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group was a “prelude to a shoot-to-kill policy” against demonstrators.

Cairo also summoned Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo, Saif Mogadam Al-Boenain, last week in order to “reject” statements about the internal strife gripping the country.

Speaking on Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi said that the government’s decision to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist” organization is final and should be respected by the international community.

“Dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is an Egyptian decision and an internal affair and is not based on foreign influence,” he told a joint news conference with his Algerian counterpart during a visit to Algiers.

According to media reports on Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood itself is seeking legal redress abroad for Cairo’s controversial decision.

Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood government filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting an investigation into alleged crimes committed by the military.

The complaint accused the military of staging a coup against the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Mursi, in addition to the illegal detention of Muslim Brotherhood members and the use of “extreme force to remove civilians who gathered to protest against the coup,” according to a statement issued by London-based Irvine Thanvi (ITN) Solicitors on Monday.

ITN Solicitors, which advertises itself as a “firm of solicitors and advocates specializing in global criminal law,” claimed that investigations “showed a prima facie case that the military, police, and political members of the regime had committed crimes against humanity against Egyptian civilians protesting against the coup.”

The complaint was submitted to the ICC on December 20, and includes “detailed and compelling evidence that the criminal acts perpetrated by the military regime include murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, persecution against an identifiable group, enforced disappearance of persons and other inhumane acts of similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

“The evidence shows that the acts alleged were widespread and systematic,” the statement concluded.