Egyptians mock claims that Brotherhood responsible for economic crisis

Egyptians mock claims that Brotherhood responsible for economic crisis
Analysis: Following the recent arrest of a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member over allegations of "destabilising the economy", Egyptians have used social media to mock the police's implausible claims.
4 min read
02 November, 2015
Malek is being detained for 15 days of questioning [Twitter]
Egyptian police have arrested an alleged senior figure and key financier of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood and would hold him for 15 days for questioning.

Hassan Malek was detained at his home in a suburb of Cairo along with four other reportedly Brotherhood-linked businessmen on Thursday October 22.

Police said the men had been arrested as they were plotting to destroy the country's economy, currently facing a currency crisis due to the overvalued Egyptian pound.


Blaming a number of businessmen for the USD crisis is a great insult to the Egyptian economy

- Moatasim Rashid

"National security services recently received information that fugitive Muslim Brotherhood leaders have held a number of meetings, in which they agreed on a plan to find alternative ways to fund the organisation as a part of a larger scheme to damage the Egyptian economy," a police statement read.

"The scheme involved hording foreign currency and smuggling it abroad as well as working towards escalating the instability of the USD exchange rate to thwart the state's efforts to create economic stability," it added.

The police statement listed evidence found at Malek's flat which allegedly included documents and charts that outlined attacking the Egyptian economy, assignments to devalue the Egyptian pound, a laptop, flash drives, CDs and a large amount of cash and foreign currency.

Local media reported on Sunday that, following an eight-hour interrogation, Malek confessed that he was a member of the Brotherhood - but had not been interrogated on allegations involving the economy.

In 2006, Malek was arrested under former president Hosni Mubarak.

Two years later, a military tribunal sentenced him to prison, along with another business leader and Brotherhood right-hand man, Khairat al-Shater, for financing a banned organisation.

While officially prohibited, the Brotherhood was tolerated under Mubarak and even ran candidates for office as independents.

Both men were freed in 2011 after the popular uprising that ousted Mubarak.

In March, Malek's son Omar was sentenced to death in a case known in the Egyptian media as the "Rabaa Operations Room" case - part of an ongoing crackdown on Islamists launched by army chief-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In 2013, Sisi overthrew Mubarak's successor, Mohammad Morsi, and totally prohibited the Brotherhood.

Social media reaction

Many Egyptians took to social media to mock what they considered an obvious attempt by the government to divert attention from the real problems hitting the market.

"[Malek] was going to pour down the drain the billions of pounds from the new Suez Canal and the 200 billion from the gas field discovery. But as soon as we arrested him we solved all of our economic problems overnight," joked journalist Solafa Magdy on Facebook.

Human rights activist Negad al-Borai mockingly tweeted: "Thank God they arrested Malek and shut the Brotherhood's dollar exchange companies. The rate will drop but don't expect it to go under six pounds - being too optimistic is wrong."

Another Egyptian Twitterer commented: "Malek single-handedly managed to devalue the Egyptian pound against the USD and undermine all of Sisi's projects. If that's true, he should be president."

Economist Moatasim Rashid told local media: "Blaming a number of businessmen for the USD crisis is a great insult to the Egyptian economy. Egypt is not small or weak; a number of individuals would not be able to control its entire economy - no matter how powerful they are."

Twitter users launched the Arabic-language hashtag #InHassanMalek'sflat, lampooning the police's list of items found during the raid on the Brotherhood financer's home.

Among the objects social media users claimed were found in his home were the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Mubarak's $70 billion believed stashed away in Swiss banks, the legendary island of Atlantis and the assassin of UD President John F Kennedy.

On Monday October 26, Hussein Ibrahim, the secretary general of the Brotherhood's disbanded Freedom and Justice Party, and Refei Hassan, another alleged Brotherhood member, were arrested in the far western city of Marsa Matrouh while trying to reach Libya, according to al-Araby's Arabic service.

Also this week, 25 business figures accused of being members of the Brotherhood had their assets frozen by a committee tasked with managing assets tied to the banned group.