Conflict & Justice

Will the Muslim Brotherhood grant Egypt's army immunity?


Egyptian soldiers beat-up a protester during clashes near Cairo's Tahrir Square on December 16, 2011 after demonstrators threw petrol bombs and set fire to furniture in front of the nearby parliament.



Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood would be willing to grant army officers immunity from prosecution for killing protestors in recent clashes, a Brotherhood spokesman told a local TV channel, according to Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will control a large majority of the new parliament following staggered legislative elections over the past month.

Mahmoud Ghazlan said immunity for the army whose generals now control the country is preferable to ensure a more smooth transition of power: 

“We do not mind, so long as this facilitates the hand-over of power,” he said in a phone interview with the private satellite channel Dream TV on Monday.

“We should not talk of a safe departure for the military council, as this humiliates the military establishment,” he said. “We should talk about giving the military immunity.”

Egyptian soldiers came under heavy fire for its heavy-handed crackdown on protestors staging a peaceful sit-in in front of the parliamentary building. At least 14 protestors were killed in the ensuing clashes, in which troops fiercely beat demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square. 

The statement exposes a series of contradictory positions taken by the Brotherhood vis-à-vis Egypt’s military since a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak and ushered the generals to power last year.

Brotherhood members have generally shied away from outright confrontation with the military, which seeks to enshrine its powers and privileges under any new civilian government.

On November 18, the Brotherhood held its first anti-military rally in which it called for the scrapping of a so-called ‘supra-constitutional’ document that would shield the army from civilian oversight.

The still-developing relationship between the military and the Brotherhood will be crucial to watch as Egypt grapples with its post-Mubarak future.