Egypt’s Red Notice requests for Muslim Brotherhood members: political or criminal in nature?

As addressed in the last post, earlier this year, the government of Egypt requested that INTERPOL issue Red Notices against members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Evidence points to these Red Notice requests being political in nature, which explicitly contradicts INTERPOL’s Constitution.

International human rights observervations report political bias in terrorist designation

The Muslim Brotherhood was banned in Egypt after being blamed for a bombing that killed sixteen people even after a separate terrorist organisation took responsibility, causing Human Rights Watch to issue a public statement:

“By rushing to point the finger at the Brotherhood without investigations or evidence, the government seems motivated solely by its desire to crush a major opposition movement.”

Human Rights Watch has estimated that Egypt has imprisoned as many as 60,000 political activists, which Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current President of Egypt, has denied. 

Rodney Dixon, a defense lawyer for Yousef al-Qaradawi, whose name was removed from INTERPOL’s wanted list after INTERPOL found his charges were “of a political character,told the Middle East Eye that “the political motivations (behind the request for the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members) were clear through the lack of proper, verifiable evidence presented by the Egyptian authorities.” He also warned that with the clear evidence from many cases of detainees being tortured in order to obtain confessions, individuals extradited to Egypt face the risk of not being given a fair trial. 

Most reputable sources such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Human Rights Watch, say the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organisation, which lends support to the idea that this matter is political in nature.

 As stated by the New York Times, even experts critical of the Brotherhood agree that the organization does not meet the criteria for a terrorist group. “Designating the Muslim Brotherhood a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ would wrongly equate it with violent extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and make their otherwise lawful activities illegal,” said Laura Pitter, senior US national security counsel at Human Rights Watch, on whether the Brotherhood should be designated a terrorist group in America. Human Rights Watch also stated, “The main branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt officially renounced violence in the 1970s and sought to promote its ideas through social and political activities,” again confirming the lack of terroristic tendencies. Furthermore, an extensive government review of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United Kingdom in 2015 found that it “has not been linked to terrorist-related activity in and against the UK.”

INTERPOL’s vulnerability to abusive Red Notice requests

Critics claim that the minimal requirements of INTERPOL to issue a Red Notice do not provide enough evidence to guarantee the crimes are not politically motivated and INTERPOL’s rules contain serious loopholes that allow governments to abuse its channels for political and other unlawful purposes.

A significant quantity of available information appears to counter the Egyptian government’s claims that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood is a clear political threat to those in power. It would seem that the Red Notice requests are improper under INTERPOL’s rules.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

*Special thanks to Sophia Estlund, a contributing guest author in this series.