Supporters of Egyptian President Mursi chant
Supporters of Egyptian President Mursi chantReuters

A senior member of Egypt’s former militant Islamist group al-Gamaa al-Islamiya has warned that liberal politicians and intellectuals who oppose President Mohammed Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration could face a campaign of targeted assassinations, Al Arabiya news reported.

Nageh Ibrahim, the ideologue of the Gamaa al-Islamiya, which seeks to establish Islamic rule in Egypt and took up arms against ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime in the 1980s, told Al Arabiya that his expectation “was based on an analysis of the political situation not on information.”

He said that the recent escalation of violence in different parts of the country, including successive attacks on security forces in Sinai, attacks on Muslim Brotherhood offices and on mosques, point to a possible violent reaction against liberals.

In an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Ibrahim first stated his belief that targeted assassinations against prominent liberals would be a “natural reaction” to violence and mistrust, and political polarization in Egypt.

While Ibrahim supported President Morsi’s latest decrees to consolidate his powers, he called for the president to include more liberal figures in his government, Al Arabiya reported.

“Had the president included representatives of the civil powers in the new government, he would not have had so many enemies,” Ibrahim said. “This has to be done before Egypt becomes divided, not only politically but possibly geographically as well.”

His statements, however, drew sharp criticism from his colleague Essam Derbala, chairman of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya’s Advisory Council, who described Ibrahim’s statements as “irresponsible” and not representative of party beliefs.

“This is a very bad timing for issuing such statements,” Derbala was quoted as saying by the Egyptian newspaper al-Mesryoon. “This would promote divisions in the Egyptian society and spread fear of Islamist groups.”

Derbala expressed his doubts that Ibrahim issued the warnings based on factual information, claiming they were mere speculations.

“These are just speculations that reflect his own point of view, but are not official especially that he does not hold any positions now in the group.”