On January 25, 2014, as Egypt marked the fourth anniversary of the Arab Spring revolution, bloody clashes broke out between demonstrators and security forces, prompting condemnations from the United States, Britain, and human rights organizations.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry announced that 20 people were killed in the clashes, including two policemen. Most were killed in northern Cairo, the rest in the Damietta region of the Nile Delta.
Egypt accused the Muslim Brotherhood, which it has outlawed, of having organized the riots with the aim of destabilizing the country.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced that the police had arrested 516 Brotherhood activists after the riots, which involved shooting, the use of explosive devices, and attacks on public facilities.
Qatari-Based Muslim Brotherhood Activity
Last month, a Saudi-initiated and mediated reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar was announced. Qatar ceased broadcasts on its special Al Jazeera channel for Egypt, Mubasher Misr (in Arabic), which had incited against the Sisi regime and covered the Muslim Brotherhood’s activity.
Currently residing in Doha, Qatar are a few dozen Muslim Brotherhood leaders who escaped from Egypt after General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power. Most prominent among them is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Egypt has demanded that Qatar hand these leaders over, claiming they were involved in organizing terrorist attacks in the country. Egypt also demanded the confiscation of their funds held in Qatari banks and used, Egypt claims, to finance terrorist attacks. So far Qatar has not responded to these demands.
Senior Egyptian officials charge the Muslim Brotherhood with fomenting tensions between Egypt and Qatar while using Qatar as a base for anti-Egyptian incitement.
According to these officials, Sheikh Qaradawi, who lives in Doha and heads the International Union of Islamic Scholars, directed incitement against the Egyptian government to mark the January 25 events.
Qaradawi posted two videos on YouTube in which he called on Egyptians to take to the streets and demonstrate in defiance of Sisi’s government, the army, and the police.
He also called on Egyptians to heed deposed President Mohamed Morsi and help him return to power.
The Egyptian officials say Qaradawi’s incitement was also supported by the Iranian media, which, in connection to the January 25 events, called the rise of the current Egyptian government a “coup d’état” and charged it with perpetrating a “massacre of the demonstrators in the streets.” The Iranian media also inflated the demonstrators’ casualty tolls.
Al Jazeera Continues Its Anti-Egyptian Campaign
Egyptian sources claim that even though Al Jazeera that broadcasts from Doha has canceled the programming of the special Mubasher Misr channel, that incited against the Sisi government and backed the Muslim Brotherhood, the media broadcasts have not actually changed and the attacks against Egypt on Al Jazeera continue.
These sources charge that a channel that is now operating, Al Jazeera Ama (“general” in Arabic), takes the same tack as the channel that was closed, vilifying Egypt and extensively covering the Muslim Brotherhood’s activity.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s U.S. and European-Based Anti-Egyptian Activity
On January 21 the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabea reported that the Muslim Brotherhood had organized activities against the Sisi government in the United States and in several European countries. The paper said the Brotherhood had done so through a body called the World Union of Egyptians Abroad, under the leadership of the London branch of the Brotherhood.
According to the newspaper, this body organized inciting activity at gatherings and conferences were held to mark the January 25 anniversary in New Jersey and in Düsseldorf.
Egypt is worried about the Muslim Brotherhood’s activity. The organization has now shown that it is capable of igniting the Egyptian street, engaging in violence, and undermining the country’s stability.
Meanwhile, from Doha, the Brotherhood continues to incite against the Egyptian government as the Qatari authorities do nothing to stop the phenomenon.
Apparently Egypt is waiting for the situation in Saudi Arabia to stabilize in the wake of the death of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, and will then ask Saudi Arabia to exert its influence on Qatar so that the elements behind the crisis can be quelled.
Saudi Arabia attributes great importance to Qatari-Egyptian reconciliation and in recent months has invested considerable diplomatic effort in bringing it about.