The Egyptian authorities have resorted to every means in their power to convince people to vote yes in the constitutional referendum that begins Tuesday.

Televisions and radios offered daily editorials and debates about the merits of the new Basic Law, including new guarantees of individual rights. However, the government has simultaneously expanded its crackdown on dissidents beyond all borders of Islam voice.

A few days ago a court sentenced eight revolutionary activists to two years in prison in Alexandria for organizing a march without notice to the authorities, as it is ordered by a new law restricting demonstrations. Three other activists considered a symbol of the revolt that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011 were jailed for participating in a civil disobedience campaign against this law last month.

Harassment did not spare journalists. Three journalists from Al Jazeera, including an Australian reporter, were arrested on December 30 and then were charged with providing information that  harmed “national security” .

The anti-terrorist hysteria included authorities investigating a telecommunications company accused of using a puppet in which it supposedly sent coded messages to terrorist cells.

Undoubtedly, the Muslim Brotherhood, officially designated as a “terrorist organization”, are the group that has suffered the most repression. Security forces have killed hundreds of its followers after the coup and its leaders have been imprisoned.

Besides the legal and media fronts of the current battle there are now the economic and social ones. The government has frozen the assets of 800 leaders of the Brotherhood and has gained control of 87 schools. In addition, the Central Bank has frozen the accounts of more than a thousand NGOs accused of having links with the Islamist movement.

The decision was highly controversial because it includes some organizations with a long history and presence in the territory. “Many of the organizations on the list have no connection with the Brotherhood. In fact, their foundation precedes that of the brotherhood itself.

However, “they do have a proselytizing purpose,” says Mustafa Khalil, a specialist in Islamist movements and a social researcher. The inclusion of these groups may be motivated by the work of overzealous authorities and their willingness to extend their harassment of other Islamic groups.

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