The Egyptian army is taking every opportunity to twist the screws on the Muslim Brotherhood. By going through with the trial of its most senior leaders on charges that they incited supporters to the murder of three people during the events surrounding Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, Egypt’s military leaders are hoping to pressure the Brotherhood to put an end to the crisis.The trial of Mohammed Badie (the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader), his deputy (Khairat el-Shater), and Mohamed Rashad Bayoumi (another high-ranking official) is set to take place on August 25:
“It reflects a real desire on the part of some in the organization to use this opportunity to destroy the Brotherhood,” he said.Even under Mr. Mubarak, whose security services routinely detained and tortured Brotherhood members and other Islamists, the supreme guide was mostly left alone.A serving supreme guide of the Brotherhood has not been arrested since 1981, before Mr. Mubarak came to power.
With this trial looming, the next question is how long the military will tolerate the widespread sit-ins and street protests that the Brotherhood has managed to sustain for most of July. Given that the army has already issued several warnings, that could be the next shoe to drop.[Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Alexandria, July 22. Photo courtesy Getty Images.]