Rumor has it that a new Committee for The Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) has emerged in Egypt, and that its members are applying “unauthorized” force to impose its rules. Several incidents in recent days have raised concerns over the rapid spread of this phenomenon, especially in remote areas outside Cairo. However, the Islamist movement believes that this “media buzz” is being spread to damage the movement’s image. In fact, the movement did not rule out the presence of a “conspiracy” against Islamists by several authorities in Egypt, in a bid to intimidate Egyptians and lower the Islamists’ popularity.
Al-Hayat (Pan Arab)
Islamists Repudiate Incidents of Violence
July 4, 2012
July 4 2012
Ever since Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi won Egypt’s presidential elections, several complaints have been filed about bearded men stopping women in the streets and urging them to wear modest clothing. The media reported several incidents that ranging from Islamists “offering advice” to “rebuking” unveiled women. The disputes over this situation worsened after the latest incident in Suez, in which Ahmed Hassan, a young man in his twenties, was killed.
Ahmed Hassan’s family accused several bearded men of killing their son while he went for a stroll with his fiancee. The family reported that those men prevented the couple from walking alone without “a male companion.” A heated dispute then emerged between the young man and the meddlers, which then evolved into an altercation that ended in the killing of Ahmed. Chargé d’affaires and acting presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali pledged to “strictly implement the law,” especially with respect to those involved in “horrible situations” such as Ahmed Hassan’s murder.
Private satellite channels vied with to be the first to broadcast footage of the incident. Some of the footage showed groups of bearded men holding machine guns and firing bullets in the air. These men are believed to be members of the CPVPV. Other broadcast footage showed a group of bearded men sharpening a hatchet to frighten pedestrians, according to witnesses. The stories reported in these videos have yet to be confirmed.
The Suez incident remains the most important unsolved puzzle. The Islamist movement denied its involvement in the incident and investigations did not reach any conclusions or confirm the identity of the murderers. Circulations that were distributed in streets bearing the signature of the unidentified committee have raised concerns over how widespread this phenomenon really is.
Ahmed’s funeral was held yesterday [July 3], attended by several prominent political figures from the Suez governorate and amid angry voices demanding the punishment of his killers. Several political parties and figures issued a statement to confirm their unconditional support for the family of the deceased. They also called upon security authorities to catch the murderers, whether they were part of a “conspiracy” against the Islamists or members of the so-called CPVPV.
Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, an Islamic group in Suez, immediately denied its involvement in the incident after it was rumored that the murderers were members. The group issued a statement stating that the accusation “is a deliberate falsehood and not based on any evidence. It is only a part of the current campaign to damage the Islamist movement’s reputation.”
The spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahmud Ghazlan, confirmed to Al-Hayat that “It is not in al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya’s nature to commit these acts. That group has observed Islam’s call for decades with wisdom and good preaching.”
Ghazlan accused several unnamed authorities of perpetrating these acts to defame the Islamist movement. “We condemn these acts, for they have nothing to do with Islam and we repudiate them and their perpetrators,” he added.
According to Ghazlan, some are trying to damage the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist movement so that people will be afraid of them. “Our stance is clear. Only the government has the right to promote virtue and prohibit vice. Individuals are not entitled to do so. If individuals had this right, there would be public disorder.”
Abbas Mohamed, the former Salafist al-Nour Party MP in Suez, told Al-Hayat in that he condemned the murder of the young man and refused to point a finger at any party or movement until the investigations reach a conclusion and murderers’ identities are revealed. Mohamed accused the media of trying to ascribe the murder to Islamists. He said, “The bearded gangs are numerous and there are many people out there who pretend to be members of the Islamist movement in order to damage its reputation … Does Islam sanction such acts? Absolutely not ... If the teachings of Islam prohibit this act, how can we then change what is prohibited into a much worse vice? I confirm that Islam does not recognize committing such acts and those who perpetrated it are not followers of the Islamist movement.”
Mohamed confirmed that the Salafi Call Society, the “mother of all Islamist movements,” has for years resisted the ideology of using force and bloodshed to bring about change. Instead, he says it spreads the correct Islamic teachings. “Do we resort to violence now that so many doors have been opened?” he asked. “There is a plot to defame the Islamist movement,” he said.