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article imageOp-Ed: El-Baradei threatened when he criticized the Egyptian president

By Ken Hanly     Jan 9, 2017 in Politics
Exiled Egyptian statesman Mohammed el-Baradei served briefly as vice-president of Egypt after the popularly-backed military coup of 2013 by now president Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.
El Baradei was Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAE) from 1997 to 2009. He was featured fairly often in the western press during the 2011 revolution that ousted Mubarak and the 2013 coup against elected president Morsi.
In a recent interview, El-Baradei was critical of military rule. He questioned whether military leaders have the skills necessary for civilian rule. Some Egyptian MPs are calling for El-Baradei's citizenship be revoked and some social media users are saying he should face the death penalty for treason. El-Baradei is currently in self-exile in Austria. In an interview on the Arabic news channel Al-Araby El-Baradei said: A graduate of the armed forces can be a great commander, but he won’t know how to run the Education Ministry. The logical consequence is that authoritarian rule creates extremist groups.”
There are also moves to strip El-Baradei of the Order of the Nile, which is Egypt's highest state honour. El-Baradei actually received the order from then-president Hosni Mubarak in 2006 after El-Baradei won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the (IAEA). Tariq Mahmoud a politician supportive of el-Sisi filed a legal bid to have El-Baradei stripped of the honour because he is guilty of "plotting with foreign actors to embarass the Egyptian state". Recipients of the order are given a monthly stipend and provided a military funeral with full honours. After the interview, many on social media accused El-Baradei of being a US agent.
El-Baradei responded to the criticism by tweeting that the attempt to strip him of his citizenship was a sign of rising fascism in Egypt. A number of El-Baradei's phone calls have been leaked in which he allegedly attacks high profile Egyptian military and political leaders. El-Baradei claims that at least one phone call to his brother had been doctored before being released.
While El-Baradei had agreed to serve as vice-president after the el-Sisi coup he resigned in protest at the Rabaa massacre which the army dispersed killing hundreds of protesters. While some hold El-Baradei responsible for the massacre he denies having any prior knowledge of the army actions and claims that his aim was to avoid civil war.
In an interview with the Austrian newspaper DiePresse in January 2015, El-Baradei said that he fully supported participation in elections of all Egyptian political movements and parties including the Muslim Brotherhood which has now been declared a terrorist organization. El-Baradei said: “One of the lessons of the Arab Spring is that we need national unity, inclusion.... We need inclusion, just as in Tunisia. There the Islamists are in parliament. This is the only way. You can not demonise them for ever, as in Egypt today. Egypt has a very angry, polarised society. The Islamists will not dissolve into thin air. It is a big mistake to push the Muslim Brotherhood underground. One doesn’t need to be Einstein to understand this….those who want moderation must welcome the Islamists. Pushing them underground will only reap violence and extremism. This is one of the major lessons to be learned from the Arab Spring.” President El-Sisi is continuing to demonise the Brotherhood, with many in jail and many facing death sentences. Egypt is plagued by violence caused by extremists just as El-Baradei predicted.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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