When America’s obsequious Secretary of State John Kerry met Egypt’s ruling generals yesterday, he claimed they appear to be following a “road map” back to democracy — even though they have not pledged to lift emergency rule. Neither did he raise the issue of Morsi’s trial.
The New York Times reports: As Egypt’s new military-led government consolidates its power, Mohamed Morsi, the deposed president, went on trial on Monday, facing charges of inciting the murder of protesters, but he rejected the court’s authority and proclaimed himself to be the country’s legitimate ruler.
The trial got off to a late start, and the case was soon adjourned until Jan. 8.
The trial’s brief opening was Mr. Morsi’s first public appearance since his removal from office on July 3 and, in a dizzying turn for Egypt, the second criminal trial of a former head of state in less than three years. Former President Hosni Mubarak, ousted in February 2011 and now under house arrest in a military hospital, is facing a retrial at the same site, the auditorium of a police academy.
According to the website of Al Ahram, Egypt’s flagship state newspaper, the trial got under way as Mr. Morsi and 14 other Islamist defendants appeared in a caged dock and court officials called out their names. But news reports said the hearing was first delayed and then suspended after Mr. Morsi refused to dress in prison clothing and chants by his co-defendants drowned out the proceedings.
Journalists who were allowed into the courtroom were not permitted to take telephones or other communications devices, limiting the flow of information. But witnesses in the courtroom said that Mr. Morsi declared, “This trial is illegitimate,” and said he was still Egypt’s lawful president.
Mr. Morsi’s Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood had called for major protests against the trial, and the Interior Ministry said it had deployed thousands of riot police officers to secure the streets. Shortly before 11 a.m., as the trial began, the streets remained quiet, but the number of demonstrators began to grow from only a few dozen to perhaps 100 in two locations outside the court.
Pro-Morsi demonstrators gathered in larger numbers at the Supreme Constitutional Court in the Maadi district of southern Cairo, witnesses said.
BBC News reports on the changing tactics among Muslim Brotherhood protesters.
Protesters gather in small numbers in many different locations rather than holding mass rallies in one location like that of the Rabaa al-Adawiya or al-Nahda squares.
It’s been a little over two months now since security forces cracked down on those two squares where supporter of former President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood gathered in their thousands.
Since then almost all the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, including its supreme guide, have been arrested.
Many supporters have also been rounded up and thrown in jail. A recent incident in Alexandria saw more than 20 women supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood arrested in clashes with residents of one of the city’s most crowded neighbourhoods.
But all of that doesn’t seem to deter supporters of the ousted president from taking to the streets.
“It’s important to keep the momentum going,” said Yomna, a university student in her final year.
Yomna didn’t want her last name revealed. She said that as a Morsi supporter, she had to be careful not to reveal her identity. That alone shows how different things have become here in Egypt.
Despite what happened in Rabaa or even because of it, many Muslim Brotherhood supporters insist that the only way for them is the street.
“We’re tired but we are not defeated, we’re still in the street because people know that this is where they should be,” Yomna said.
“This trial will be a chance for us to regroup and unite again,” she added.
“Seeing that they have put our president on trial will make us even more determined.”
Despite this determination, Yomna admits that these past few months have been extremely difficult for her and many like her who still want Mohammed Morsi to be returned to office.
“Look what happened to those girls,” she said, referring to the women who were arrested in Alexandria recently.
“As a Morsi supporter I feel vulnerable to arrest at any time now. I’ll keep protesting but I know next time it could be me.
“Sometimes I feel like I no longer live in my own country.”