Rights group blasts government’s silence over ElBaradei death fatwa

A local human rights group has condemned the Egyptian government’s silence over a recent fatwa (religious edict) calling for the "death or imprisonment" of reform campaigner and former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei.

The Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) called on the Egyptian government to condemn the fatwa, “in order that its silence isn't mistaken for tacit consent for the killing of opposition leaders.”

The fatwa  was issued last week by Mahmoud Amer, head of the Ansar al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiya movement in the Beheira Governorate. The group called for the neutralization of ElBaradei–who was until recently touted as a possible candidate in next year's presidential elections–in order to “prevent sedition."

The Ansar al-Sunnah movement was established in 1926 and is one of the largest Salafi groups in Egypt, boasting some150 branches and 2000 mosques nationwide. In 1969, the government, in an attempt to restrict the group's activities, integrated it within the officially -sanctioned Legitimate Association of People who Rule by the Book (Quran) and Sunnah.

In a statement issued on Monday, the ANHRI declared that the “radical and provocative” edict “came only a few days after [ElBardei] severely criticized the vote rigging that took place during recent parliamentary elections and his assertion of the citizen's right to participate in peaceful protests to demand change."

According to ANHRI Executive Director Gamal Eid, the Ansar al-Sunnah movement had in 2005 called on members to take a "pledge of allegiance" to President Hosni Mubarak and to pronounce the president the “Prince of the Believers."

“This same movement has now issued a fatwa…calling for the killing of ElBaradei for no reason other than his expression of political views that are shared by thousands, if not millions, of Egyptians,” said Eid. “We will not accept the government’s silence [on this fatwa] as when it remained silent after some members of [Mubarak's ruling] National Democratic Party incited the shooting of political protesters.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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