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Egypt claims against Brotherhood ‘financier’ draw criticism

17:58 25 October 2015 Author :   The Staff
Hassan Malek photo from Bloomberg.com

- Allegations by Egyptian authorities that Muslim Brotherhood is to blame for country’s precarious economy draw storm of criticism on social media

CAIRO – The Egyptian authorities have accused Hassan Malek, a prominent businessman and a Muslim Brotherhood leader, of plotting to smuggle foreign currency out of the country with the aim of undermining the national economy.

The allegations, however, have drawn a storm of criticism on social media websites, with many observers seeing the accusations as an attempt by the authorities to shift blame for the country's dire economic situation on the embattled Brotherhood.

Malek was detained by police last Thursday, only days after the Egyptian pound lost value against the U.S. dollar (it currently stands at 7.93 to the greenback).

According to the Interior Ministry, Malek -- along with several accomplices -- conspired to smuggle foreign currency out of the country in a deliberate attempt to harm the economy.

In a statement, the ministry asserted that Malek and his accomplices had planned to use Brotherhood-affiliated foreign-exchange companies in order to destabilize local exchange rates.

“Half a billion dollars found in Malek's house,” the headlines of pro-government newspapers read in the wake of Malek's arrest.

A number of television programs also dwelt on alleged plans by the Brotherhood to undermine the economy and weaken the Egyptian pound.

Several independent commentators, for their part, harshly criticized the government’s assertions.

“This [i.e., the allegations against Malek] is not only a sign of political bankruptcy, but also an attempt to garner sympathy for the [poor economic] performance of the Egyptian state,” prominent lawyer and regime critic Khaled Ali wrote on Facebook.

Egypt’s pro-government media describes Malek as the “main financier” of the Brotherhood, which two years ago was designated a “terrorist organization” by the Egyptian government.

Malek was among the few Brotherhood leaders who were not detained by Egyptian security forces following the ouster by the military of Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt’s first freely elected president and a leading Brotherhood figure -- in mid-2013.

- Irony

Many Egyptian social media users, meanwhile, blasted the accusations against the Brotherhood leader.

“An oil well was found in Hassan Malek's apartment,” Passant Abou Ali wrote sarcastically on Twitter.

“The missing Malaysian plane was found in Malek's house,” Ali Zalat, another social media user, tweeted in reference to a Malaysian airplane that went missing early last year.

Some Twitter users used the allegations to mock the low turnout in Egypt's ongoing parliamentary election, the first round of which was held last week.

“Millions of voters were found in Malek's house, which affected the turnout in the recent election,” Riham Abdu tweeted.

According to Egypt's official electoral commission, only 26.5 percent of eligible voters turned out to cast ballots in last week's first-round vote.

“The fictional island of Atlantis was found in Hassan Malek's house,” yet another Twitter user wrote.

Egypt has been roiled by chaos and violence since the military ousted and imprisoned Morsi in mid-2013 before launching a relentless crackdown on his supporters.

Egypt’s pro-government media now blames the Brotherhood, the country's oldest Islamist group, for the country’s current economic woes.

Since Morsi's overthrow almost two and a half years ago, the Egyptian authorities have maintained a harsh crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds of the ousted president’s supporters and members of his Muslim Brotherhood group, while detaining thousands of political activists.

Anadolu Agency

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