President Donald Trump is considering placing Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, the White House said Tuesday.
"The president has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders wrote in an email to reporters.
Naming Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement a foreign terrorist organization would allow Washington to impose sanctions on any individual or group with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt's president said Wednesday that unfair criticism of the government is contributing to attempts to bring down the state, telling Egyptians not to listen to anyone but him.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi did not go into specifics in an address broadcast live, saying only that he would "remove from the face of the Earth" anyone plotting to bring down the state.
El-Sissi's government has faced a wave of criticism in recent weeks over alleged police brutality and other rights abuses, as well as its handling of the economy.
The Muslim Brotherhood responded by saying it is stronger than any politician’s decision.
"We will remain... steadfast in our work in accordance with our moderate and peaceful thinking in what we believe to be right, for honest and constructive cooperation, to serve the communities in which we live and humanity as a whole," a Brotherhood statement reads.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt more than 90 years ago. It came to power when its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won the 2012 presidential election. Morsi had led the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak a year earlier.
Current Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi toppled Morsi in 2013, outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, and threw Morsi and many of its leaders in jail.
El-Sissi has shown little tolerance for the opposition and any dissent.
Trump hosted el-Sissi at the White House three weeks ago, praising him as a “great president” and asserting that U.S.-Egypt relations had never been stronger.
The world community's "chilling complacency toward wide-scale human rights violations" in the Middle East and North Africa emboldened governments to commit "appalling" violations last year, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
The group's annual survey of the human rights situation in the region, released in Beirut, said ongoing crackdowns on dissent and civil society "intensified significantly" in Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
It also cited the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October, saying it "has not been followed by concrete
Many U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups have blasted al-Sissi for what they say have been numerous abuses and the recent successful referendum extending presidential terms which could allow him to rule until 2030.
Organized opposition to the referendum in Egypt was almost nonexistent.