“Fifth column” charges chase Egypt’s activists, politicians
La chasse aux traitres est ouverte en Egypte
Analyse de la BBC
The editor-in-chief of Egypt’s state-owned Al-Ahram daily published an editorial on 23 September to say that the country would officially announce within days that “it is free from all sorts of terrorism”, and that it is starting a “new battle” against what he called the “fifth column”.
Citing an anonymous government figure, the editor said the “fifth column, represented by those who received foreign funding before and after the 2011 revolution,” would be the regime’s next target.
Accusations of pursuing a devious foreign agenda have been always chasing political activists and human rights organizations in post-Mubarak Egypt.
However, this is not the first incident of its kind. Media outlets in Egypt use the term “fifth column” to refer to groups and activists who support the Muslim Brotherhood group, whose activities, no-governmental organization and any affiliated groups were banned by a court ruling a couple of days ago.
On 2 September, controversial television presenter Tawfiq Ukasha, who owns the private Fara’in (Pharaohs) TV channel gave the country’s strongman Sisi [give full name and designation] a one-week deadline to “purge” the media from elements of the “fifth column”.
Also, Abd-al-Rahim Ali, a well-known expert in Islamic affairs, told private Al-Midan TV that those who oppose the reinstatement of the State Security Investigations Service (SSIS), which was engaged in pursuing activists, are from the “fifth column” and Morsi’s supporters. He, too, named political figures and activists as being members of the “fifth column”.
On 9 September, the news portal of Al-Wafd daily, the mouthpiece of Al-Wafd Party, said this “fifth column” was supported by the USA, UK and Turkey with a view to “undermining the revolution and aborting the popular will” of the Egyptians.
State-run Al-Ahram al-Arabi paper in its 12 September online edition published what it said was a list of celebrities allegedly representing the “fifth column” in the post-Morsi era. The list included a famous football player, two actors, two political writers and former Vice-President Muhammad al-Baradi’i.
Veteran writer Fahmi Huwaydi addressed the phrase in his article on 25 September while commenting on Al-Ahram’s editorial. “If our next wars will range between that on terror and another on the fifth column, this will mean that the security services would have the upper hand in the country during the next stage,” he added.
Crackdown on activists
Political activists fear that the authorities will follow up the crackdown on Islamists with wider action against those opposed to Islamists and the military.
Ahmad Mahir, whose 6 April Movement played a major role in the 2011 uprising, was said to be arrested at Cairo Airport in May as he was returning from a visit to the US. Though the group’s media spokesman denied that the arrest had taken place, it raised fears of an imminent crackdown on those who brought down the regime in 2011.
Haytham Muhamidin, a high-profile lawyer and key figure in Egypt’s labour and revolutionary movements, was released without charge after being arrested and taken to a police court on 7 September.
Reports published on 7 September also noted that the public prosecutor was looking into legal complaints against 35 prominent democracy and rights activists, of which many were important figures in the uprising against ousted Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in 2011.
Source: as listed in English 26 Sep 13
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