Egypt Seizes Muslim Brotherhood-Owned Supermarket and Department Store
The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood continues in Egypt under newly-minted president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. On Sunday, two retail outlets owned by high-ranking members of the now illegal political party were seized and shut down, as per a court decree.
The Agence France-Presse reports that Seoudi supermarkets and the Zad department store chain have been shut down because their owners are prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Cairo's police chief, Brigadier General Ali al-Demerdash, said simply of the move, "Security forces are implementing the law."
The supermarket chain is owned by Abdel Rahman Seoudi, while Zad Department Stores is owned by Khairat al-Shater. The two were not merely members of the group but leaders during its reign. Egyptian courts decided to shut down all commercial enterprises involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, as money generated from these institutions could go to funding the group. In addition to closing down income sources for the Muslim Brotherhood, courts ordered a full ban that prevents anyone from legally being a member of the political party.
A manager of the store lamented to the AFP the removal of the stores, which serve as employment bases for many in the capital. "They came and ordered us [employees] all out... yes, the chain is owned by a Muslim Brotherhood member, but we sell food and beverages, not politics," he said.
The move is part of a larger effort to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood entirely. President Sisi vowed that the political party, of which former President Mohamed Morsi was a member, would no longer exist should he be elected. "I want to tell you that it is not me that finished [the Brotherhood]. You, the Egyptians, are the ones who finished it," he said in an interview before assuming power. Sisi, a lifelong soldier and former Supreme Commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces, ousted Morsi in July 2013, calling for an end to political Islamism in Egypt.
Sisi has been particularly active in working to combat the epidemic of sexual assault and harassment in Egypt. This week, the Egyptian government arrested and referred thirteen men to trial over a sexual attack in Tahrir Square, attacks Sisi has decried as unacceptable. Sisi himself visited the victim of a particularly violent sexual attack in the square last week, making a public apology to the woman and bringing her flowers in the hospital. “I have come to tell you and every Egyptian woman that I am sorry. I am apologizing to every Egyptian woman,” he said, adding that such an attack "is unacceptable, even if it is one case." The government of Egypt also requested that YouTube remove a video of her assault after the woman told Sisi during the visit that she would not like such footage to remain public.