Egypt: Mohamed Badie, leader of Muslim Brotherhood, arrested

mohamed-badieOn the night of Monday to Tuesday, Mohamed Badie, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was captured in Cairo with two other senior executives in an apartment near Rabaa al-Adawiya. A place that has become famous since the tragic death Wednesday of 280 supporters of the brotherhood of former President Mohamed Morsi, ousted by the army on July 3. On the sixth day of clashes between Islamists and military power the conflict is still alive in the country. The eyes of the international community are focused on the situation.

Tuesday morning Egypt woke up with the image of Mohamed Badie, 70, taken by the police and sitting on a couch, dressed in the traditional long white tunic jalabiya. Public and private TV stations, who almost unanimously support the military coup, broadcast incessantly the images of the arrest. On 10 July, an Egyptian court had ordered the arrest for “inciting to violence”, a week after the army had removed from office and arrested Morsi, the first head of the Egyptian government democratically elected.

The desire for revenge was brewing among the Islamists, exposed in the early events of the last week. Military forces, determined not to let Mohamed Morsi installed in the office again, launched a crackdown that has already killed more than 900 people, mostly in the camp of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sunday, the army chief and new strong man of Egypt, General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, authorized soldiers and police to open fire on demonstrators. The son of Mohamed Badie was shot dead during protests on Friday in Cairo. More than a thousand Morsi supporters have been arrested, including the most senior Muslim Brotherhood chiefs. Sunday afternoon, at least 35 detainees, all belonging to the movement, were asphyxiated by tear gas into a truck carrying them to a prison near Cairo. The authority said they kidnapped a police officer and were trying to escape. Islamists fear that other prisoners suffered the same fate.

Later in the morning, the Muslim Brotherhood announced that a new interim leader has been appointed: Mahmoud Ezzat is one of Badie’s deputies in the executive of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We are 90 million Egyptians and there are only 3 million Muslim Brotherhood members. We need six months to liquidate or imprison them all,” said General Amr, interviewed Monday by Le Monde. “This is not a problem, we have already done in the 1990s. […] The Brothers have only two possibilities: either they run Egypt, or they burn. Fortunately, we are the most powerful army in the Arab world and 14th worldwide. We are the only country that has won a war against terrorism. We know how to do it,” said the powerful military official.

All Islamist prisoners should be tried starting August 25, including Mohamed Badie. He was already imprisoned several times, accused of various plots to overthrow the Egyptian government in the 1960s, before being elected head of the Brotherhood in 2010. Former follower of a rigorous and radical Islam, he became later a supporter of a progressive Islamization of society more than an abrupt reversal of power. Born in 1943 in Mahalla in the Nile Delta, he had veterinary studies before teaching it and studied the theory of radical Muslim activist Sayyid Qutb.

Amid this chaos, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked Egypt to approve the deployment of observers to assess the situation on the ground. UNHCR wants to collect information on the basis of testimony of non-governmental organizations and other sources. Last Thursday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay asked an impartial and independent investigation into the events of the first day of repression last Wednesday.