Graffiti: The Muslim Brotherhood's new weapon against the Egyptian military
“Remove it and I’m writing again: Down with the military’s rule!” Gulf News reports that this and other slogans have been ubiquitously daubed on walls of public and private buildings across Egypt since the army deposed president Mohammad Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July following large street protests against his rule.
Islamists, who denounced Mursi’s ouster as a military coup, have since spray-painted on walls signs vilifying the army chief Abdul Fattah Al Sisi and the military-installed authorities including interim President Adly Mansour.
Launching what observers describe as a last-gasp battle for the Brotherhood’s survival, the 85-year-old group’s followers have left virtually no public and private property immune to the anti-military slogans.
Trains and stations of Cairo’s subway system are daubed with epithets calling Al Sisi, the architect of Mursi’s overthrow, a “traitor”, an “agent for Israel” and a “mass murderer”.
“After the army and the police have aimed their guns at us, we have every right to raise our voices to say ‘No’ to the coup plotters,” said a young Islamist who gave his first name only as Mahmoud for fear of being detained.
“Writing on walls to disgrace the military is an effective tool of resistance and a reminder of the horrors perpetrated against legitimacy and its supporters,” added the engineering student.
“When Mursi was the president, his opponents shamelessly insulted him in public and were allowed to write this on walls without any punishment. Why does the military want now to silence us and erase our slogans from walls while our blood continues to be shed on the streets?”
More than 1,000 people have been killed in Egypt since Mursi’s toppling in clashes involving his backers, opponents and security forces. Mursi himself and dozens of leading Islamists have been rounded up in a detention campaign on charges of inciting violence against opponents.
Mursi and several Brotherhood leaders are due to go on trial on November 4 for allegedly ordering a deadly attack on protests outside the presidential palace in December. Last month, an Egyptian court outlawed the Brotherhood and its subsidiaries, and ordered their assets frozen.
Brotherhood followers’ favorite slogans, chanted in frequent street protests or scrawled on building walls are: “Al Sisi is a traitor and must be executed”; and “The coup is terrorism”.
Every time authorities re-painted the walls, Mursi’s supporters appeared to daub their signs again, triggering calls from opponents for tough penalties against the practice.
“A group, which has no achievement other than terrorism and vilification, will not be able to reach power with such writings,” said anti-Islamist columnist Helmy Al Namnam. “The public will not accept such a group under the pressure of vituperation and terrorism,” he wrote in the independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm.
The military-installed government accuses the Brotherhood of waging a war of terrorism against the country as part of the group’s desperate attempts to reinstate Mursi.
The Brotherhood and its Islamist allies insist that their protests are peaceful and charge that security forces fabricate terror acts to justify a relentless crackdown on Islamists.
Minister of Local Development Adel Labeeb has recently disclosed that the government is considering a tough law banning the writing of slogans on building walls. “Until this law is issued, governors have been temporarily granted the authority of referring offenders to prosecution,” Labeeb said.
There is already an article in Egypt’s penal code making vandalism of public and private property an offence punishable by up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of 500 Egyptian pounds (Dh267). These penalties are rarely enforced.
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