As the Trump administration prepares to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, many mainstream media outlets have decried the move, saying the Brotherhood is a peaceful organization.
Clarion Project has repeatedly offered massive evidence that this is not the case.
Most recently, Clarion’s Arab Affairs Analyst and Shillman Fellow Ran Meir caught up with human rights activist and Italian journalist Antonella Napoli, who experienced her own brush with the dangerous and violent tentacles of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Napoli has covered news in Sudan for 15 years – from the crisis in Darfur to collecting testimonies from women who were victims of the war.
Last January, while taking pictures of a grassroots protest against the economic
hardships of the country, she was arrested and brutally interrogated for hours.
Next, the threatening messages started from the Brotherhood. The first one came in February, warning her to stop spreading fake news about the country.
The second came last month, saying, “You continue to spread lies about Sudan and think you are safe but the Muslim Brotherhood exists even in Italy.”
The following is Meir’s interview with Napoli:
Clarion Project: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been covering the events in Sudan? What do you think got the attention of the Muslim Brotherhood?
Antonella Napoli: I think that I got the attention of the Muslim Brotherhood because of my work as a journalist.
I’ve been covering news about Sudan since 2005. I was a correspondent for Vanity Fair, and I was shocked by the situation on the ground. I fell in love with the people of Darfur, and I deeply felt that I needed to take action to help them in any way I could. I met many women who were victims of rape, and I collected their moving stories.
I also collected news and stories about many people, victims of human rights violations. I’m a journalist, but I’ve also organized lots of campaigns for human rights.
CP: Who do you think was responsible for your arrest last January and what exactly happened to you when you were under arrest?
AN: I was arrested by security people from the National Intelligence and Security Service. They held me for four hours during which time my captors used physical and psychological violence against me. They were aggressive towards me because I was a woman, I’m sure of it.
The Italian embassy put pressure on them and they released me.
CP: Is there a connection between the security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan?
AN: I believe there is a connection because the Islamists have a strong presence as well as influence in the current military council that took over after the fall of Sudanese leader Omar Bashir in April of this year.
Certainly they have an influence on the leader of the council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, who goes by the nickname of Hemeti and was the chief of the janjaweed—the Arab militias responsible for the genocide in Darfur (the western region in Sudan) in 2003.
Hemeti is supported by the Islamists of Darfur. [Although he is formally the deputy leader of the council,] he is seen as the de facto and real leader.
CP: How are you dealing with the current threats you have gotten from the Muslim Brotherhood?
AN: At this moment I have police surveillance, but I’m not scared, because I know I’m on the right side. That’s the only thing that counts for me.
CP: How strong is the Muslim Brotherhood today in Sudan?
AN: The Muslim Brotherhood is providing support for the military regime and has the ability to dominate Sudanese politics. It is very dangerous now.
CP: What can the West do to fight their ideology and activity inside Sudan and elsewhere?
AN: The international community has to be strong and take a collective position to fight this situation in Sudan.
CP: Will you return to Sudan or has it become too dangerous for you?
AN: Of course, I will return. In fact, I am waiting for a visa now. I am planning to go next month or in September, not later than that. I am not afraid. It’s not only a question of work, it’s very, very important for me to give my support to the Sudanese people.