Egyptian forces kill 13 Muslim Brotherhood members in Cairo

Middle East Eye reports: New evidence has emerged that suggests the 13 members of the Muslim Brotherhood killed by Egyptian security forces in a flat in the Sixth of October area in Cairo on Wednesday were shot to death after being arrested.

Original media reports said that nine men had been killed but pro-Muslim Brotherhood Mekameleen TV said that the number has now increased to 13.

An anonymous security source told the Egyptian daily Watan that Nasser al-Hafi, a former member of parliament, was amongst the dead.

Abdel-Fattah Mohamed Ibrahim, an MB leader in the Giza governate, was also killed.

Another security official called the Muslim Brotherhood members “armed militants” and said that the group were hiding in a den in the flat. The official maintained that the group opened fire first and that the 13 men were killed in the resulting gun battle.

However, Muslim Brotherhood sources said that the men were well known lawyers and belonged to a legal team that represented imprisoned MB supporters, as well as a committee that supported the families of those killed or detained. [Continue reading…]

The Associated Press reports: The Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement claiming its leaders who were killed in a Cairo apartment on Wednesday were murdered in “in cold blood,” calling for a rebellion against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who it calls a “butcher.”

The group “holds the criminal Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his gang fully responsible for these crimes and their consequences,” it writes. [Continue reading…]

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Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists will lead to more violence

Mohamad Bazzi writes: On June 29, Egypt’s top prosecutor was killed in a car bombing as he left his home in Cairo. He was the most senior official to be assassinated since Islamic militants launched an insurgency two years ago after the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president.

The assassination of the prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, is a tragedy but it’s not surprising. Egypt spiraled into a cycle of state-sanctioned violence, repression and vengeance as soon as the military removed Morsi from power in July 2013. The new military-backed government launched an aggressive campaign to suppress all political opponents, hunt down leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood who fled after the coup and undo many of the gains made during the 2011 uprising that toppled then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

That is the danger many in the Arab world and in the West failed to grasp when they remained silent after Egypt’s coup: while authoritarian rule appears to provide stability over the short term, it breeds discontent and affirms the idea that the only way to achieve political power is through violence.

On June 16, an Egyptian court upheld the death penalty against Morsi, the first Brotherhood leader to assume the presidency of an Arab country. He was initially sentenced to death in May, along with more than 100 co-defendants, for taking part in an alleged prison break. It was the latest in a series of sham trials and mass death sentences decreed by the judiciary since the military coup. If the former president is ultimately hanged, it would be a grave miscarriage of justice that would make Morsi a martyr for millions throughout the Muslim world.

Beyond Morsi’s fate, the mass death sentences send a dangerous signal to Islamists throughout the region: that election results will not be respected. The Brotherhood’s recent experience in Egypt shows that authoritarian and secular forces, which often fare poorly at the ballot box, will mobilize to undermine the Islamists before they have had a chance to rule. Ultimately, Egypt cannot be a viable democracy without the Brotherhood’s participation. [Continue reading…]

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The West’s betrayal of Egypt will reap a bitter harvest

Amr Darrag writes: When the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in April, in a trial internationally condemned as unconstitutional, unfair and deeply politicised, many saw it as a test of the international community’s resolve to stand up to the series of show trials currently under way in Egypt. For those who back democracy and human rights, the wall of silence from the international community was as predictable as it was tragic. At that time, I predicted that such silence would be interpreted by the Sisi regime as a green light to a death sentence for Morsi.

Where once politicians from Downing Street to the White House lauded the ideals and actions of the 2011 revolutionaries, now they were rendered mute as Egypt’s first democratically elected president was effectively sentenced to a life behind bars. Many also saw the sentence as a nail in the coffin for the ideals and dreams of the Arab Spring.

This week, the gradual purge of this first democratic government in Egypt took a darker turn. The Sisi regime, buoyed by the clear apathy of its international partners, upheld a death sentence handed down in May to Morsi and more than 100 people. The trial was nothing but a farce. Amnesty International called it a grossly unfair charade, which demonstrated a “complete disregard for human rights”. [Continue reading…]

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Egyptian court upholds death sentence against former president Morsi

The Washington Post reports: An Egyptian court upheld Tuesday a death sentence against former President Mohamed Morsi in sweeping judgments against the ousted leader and dozens of his Muslim Brotherhood allies.

The court decisions mark the latest move by prosecutors to punish and discredit Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Islamist-inspired government was ousted by military-led pressures in 2013.

It also showed the increasingly tough stance of Egypt’s current government, led by former army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, against political opponents more than four years after the pro-democracy uprisings of the Arab Spring. [Continue reading…]

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The West must end its support of Egyptian ‘tyrant’, says a Muslim Brotherhood leader

Vice News reports: On July 3 it will be one year since the first elected president in the history of Egypt, Mohamed Mursi, was ousted in a coup by the ex-army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The subsequent crackdown on Mursi and his Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood, was severe. Security forces have killed about 1,000 Brotherhood supporters during protests and tens of thousands more have been jailed, along with left-wing activists and other government critics, according to human rights groups.

On Tuesday a court said it would give its final ruling on June 16 regarding a preliminary death sentence recently handed to Mursi and more than 100 Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members, in a case related to a 2011 mass jail break.

Meanwhile Sisi is on a trip to Germany where he has been officially welcomed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, and is set to sign a multi-billion dollar deal with German industrial group Siemens. At a press conference on Wednesday Merkel reiterated her government’s opposition to the death penalty but said working with Sisi was key to ensuring regional security.

VICE News spoke to Yahia Hamed, the Minister of Investment under Mursi, who said the opposite was true — if the West kept supporting Sisi it could destabilize the whole region, playing straight into the hands of the Islamic State, he said. [Continue reading…]

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Egypt appoints outspoken Brotherhood critic justice minister

Reuters: Egypt appointed a hardline judge and outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood as justice minister on Wednesday in a move decried by a leading opposition figure as a disaster for justice in the world’s most populous Arab country.

Ahmed el-Zend, a former appeals court judge, has in contrast to his predecessor been publicly outspoken in his criticism of the Islamist movement removed from power in mid-2013 by the army and banned as a terrorist organization.

Some Egyptian judges are seen by critics as hardliners whose rulings are in line with the toughest crackdown on Islamists in the country’s history. The judiciary says it is independent.

Liberal activist Shady el-Ghazaly Harb said the appointment was part of a trend towards empowering opponents of the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ by Egypt’s death penalty decision for Mohamed Morsi

Reuters: The US is “deeply concerned” about an Egyptian court decision to seek the death penalty for the former president Mohamed Morsi, a State Department official said on Sunday.

The US criticism follows condemnation from Amnesty International and Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after the court ruling on Saturday against the deposed leader and 106 supporters of his Muslim Brotherhood in connection with a mass jail break in 2011.

The ruling against Morsi is not final until 2 June. All capital sentences are referred to Egypt’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion, and are also subject to legal appeal.
Islamists warn of backlash over Mohamed Morsi death sentence
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“We are deeply concerned by yet another mass death sentence handed down by an Egyptian court to more than 100 defendants, including former president Morsi,” the State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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Egyptian court sentences ousted President Morsi to death

The New York Times reports: An Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Morsi, the country’s deposed president, to death on Saturday over his involvement in a prison break during Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising.

Mr. Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was the country’s first democratically elected president and came to power following the 2011 revolt that ended the three decades of autocratic rule of Hosni Mubarak. After a divisive and chaotic year in office, Mr. Morsi was ousted from power by the military in July 2013 following another wave of protests.

The jailbreak case was a sign of the sweeping reversal of Egypt’s political tide since the 2011 uprising. The former head of state had been detained in a revolution that many Egyptians hoped would bring about an end to arbitrary detentions and other abuses by the security state. [Continue reading…]

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Egypt’s Morsi: jail sentence seals dramatic reversal of fortune

Reuters: Ousted president Mohamed Mursi once dreamed of creating an “Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic foundation”. That seemed more unreachable than ever on Tuesday after a judge sentenced him to 20 years in jail for violence, kidnapping and torture.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who ousted Mursi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule, has repeatedly portrayed his Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group which poses an existential threat to Egypt.

That message was well received by many Egyptians whose desire for stability made them turn a blind eye to Sisi’s subsequent crackdown on Mursi, his supporters and other Brotherhood leaders. It was the toughest in Egypt’s history and about 800 protestors died.

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Egypt sentences Muslim Brotherhood leader, others to death

Reuters reports: An Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Badie, leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and 13 other senior members of the group to death for inciting chaos and violence, and gave a life term to a U.S.-Egyptian citizen for ties to the Brotherhood.

The men were among thousands of people detained after freely elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi was toppled in 2013 by the military under Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is now president.

Sisi describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat. The group says it is committed to peaceful activism and had nothing to do with Islamist militant violence in Egypt since Mursi’s fall following mass protests against his rule.

Egypt’s mass trials of Brotherhood members and people accused of links to the group, as well as its tough crackdown on Islamist and liberal opposition alike, have drawn international criticism of its judicial system and human rights record.

The sentences, pronounced at a televised court session on Saturday, can be appealed before Egypt’s highest civilian court in a process that could take years to reach a final verdict.

U.S.-Egyptian citizen Mohamed Soltan was sentenced to life in jail for supporting the veteran Islamist movement and transmitting false news. He is the son of Brotherhood preacher Salah Soltan, who was among those sentenced to death. [Continue reading…]

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Four years after the Egyptian revolution

Thanassis Cambanis writes: In the four years that I’ve been reporting closely on Egypt’s transition from revolution to restoration, I’ve seen young activists go from stunned to euphoric to traumatized and sometimes defeated. I’ve seen stalwarts of the old regime go from arrogant and complacent to frightened and unsure to bullying and triumphalist. And yet, so far, the core grievances that drew frustrated Egyptians to Tahrir Square in the first place remain unaddressed. Police operate with complete impunity and disrespect for citizens, routinely using torture. Courts are whimsical, uneven, at times absurdly unjust and capricious. The military controls a state within a state, removed from any oversight or scrutiny, with authority over a vast portion of the national economy and Egypt’s public land. Poverty and unemployment continue to rise, while crises in housing, education, and health care have grown even worse than the most dire predictions of development experts. Corruption has largely gone unpunished, and [President Abdel Fattah el-]Sisi has begun to roll back an initial wave of prosecutions against Mubarak, his sons, and his oligarchs.

[Basem] Kamel [one of the leaders of the revolution] has abandoned his revolutionary rhetoric of 2011 for a more modest platform of reform, working within the system. He was one of just four revolutionary youth who made it into the short-lived revolutionary parliament of 2012, and he helped found the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, one of the most promising new political parties after the fall of Mubarak.

He expects to run for parliament again with his party, but the odds are longer and the stakes lower. The parliament will have hardly any power under Sisi’s setup. Most of the seats are slated for “independents,” which in practice means well-funded establishment candidates run by the former ruling party network. The Muslim Brotherhood, the nation’s largest opposition group, is now illegal. Existing political parties can only compete for 20 percent of the seats, and most of them, like Kamel’s have dramatically tamed their criticisms.

“I think Sisi is in control of everything,” Kamel said. “Of course I am not with Sisi, but I am not against the state.”

That’s why he’s devoting his efforts to a training program for Social Democratic cadres, a sort of political science-and-organizing academy for activists and operatives that will take years to bear fruit. “It’s long-term work,” he said.

Still, something fundamental changed in January 2011, and no amount of state brutality can reverse it. Many people who before 2011 cowered or kept their ideas to themselves now feel unafraid. [Continue reading…]

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Why everyone walked free in the Mubarak trial

Mada Masr: Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidy knew that the acquittal of former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides on charges of inciting and conspiring in the killing of protesters during the January 25 revolution would shock many.

He released a 280-page long judgment to mitigate the shock.

As Rashidy flatly dismissed the charges against former strongman Hosni Mubarak on procedural grounds, the judgment that was given to the media must be read, as his reasoning behind the exculpation of the interior minister and his aids.

The case largely hangs on the testimony of security officials and former regime officials. Incriminating testimony has been dismissed and individual acts are justified given the extenuating circumstances.

At the heart of it all, Rashidy argues, is a global conspiracy.

Below, we have laid out the key arguments in Rashidy’s judgment:

The conspiracy

Through the document, the judge moves beyond the scope of the case and gives his view of the events that occurred within the case’s time frame (January 25-31). Rashidy maintains that an American-Zionist conspiracy had been plotting to divide the country.

This claim, Rashidy continues, is based on the testimonies of “the nation’s wise men,” namely the late intelligence head Omar Suleiman, former Defense Minister Hussein Tantawy, Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, his head of intelligence Mourad Mowafy and other top officials, in addition to journalist Ibrahim Eissa.

The Muslim Brotherhood were key conspirators, helping groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to sneak into the country. These actors, the court concludes, executed a choreographed plan on January 28 to bring down the state. [Continue reading…]

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Brotherhood leader’s arrest in Jordan is seen as warning from monarchy

The New York Times reports: Zaki Bani Rushaid, the provocative deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, has never been shy with his opinions.

For years, Jordan did nothing as he railed — often on nationwide television — against Jordan’s “meager” political reforms and what he sees as continued attempts to cozy up to the United States, which he calls “the cause of tyranny in the Middle East.” Despite his high profile, the kingdom appeared not to see him, or the Brotherhood, as a threat.

Then, on Nov. 17, Mr. Bani Rushaid took to his Facebook page with a new complaint, inveighing against the United Arab Emirates, which had recently branded the Muslim Brotherhood movements as terrorist groups. Among his accusations: that the Emirates plays the role of the “American cop in the region,” “supports coups” and is a “cancer in the body of the Arab world.”

Within days, he was behind bars, accused under a recently strengthened antiterrorism law for “acts harmful to the country’s relations with foreign countries.” Last week he lost an appeal for bail, and he is now awaiting trial and a possible sentence of at least two and a half years in prison.

The reason for the government’s sudden shift, analysts say, was that he crossed a political line by lashing out at the Emirates, an important ally of Jordan’s and one of several countries in the region, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that are on a campaign to wipe out the Brotherhood. [Continue reading…]

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Egypt prosecutor asks for death sentence for ousted President Morsi in espionage trial

The Associated Press reports: Egypt’s state news agency says prosecutors have asked for the death sentence for ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on trial on espionage charges.

Prosecutor Emad el-Sharawy said in closing remarks Wednesday that Morsi and his aides leaked state security documents to foreign intelligence agencies, naming Iran, while in office for one year. The military removed Morsi from office in July 2013 following mass protests against him accusing him and the Brotherhood of monopolizing power.

El-Sharawy said the defendants, who include Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 34 others, cooperated with militant groups, including Gaza’s Hamas, to destabilize Egypt. [Continue reading…]

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Qatar expels Egypt Muslim Brotherhood leaders

The Associated Press reports: Leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood group and allied clerics said on Saturday that they are departing Qatar, where they had sought refuge following the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the crackdown on his supporters.

Their presence in Qatar had severely strained Doha’s relations with Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which view the more than 85-year-old Islamist movement as a threat. The expulsion threatens to further isolate the group, which rose to power in Egypt through a string of post-Arab Spring elections but suffered a dramatic fall from grace during Morsi’s divisive year in office.

Former minister Amr Darrag, who was also the top foreign affairs official in the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and fiery cleric Wagdi Ghoneim said they are leaving Qatar following a request to do so by the Gulf monarchy. [Continue reading…]

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Egypt: The anatomy of an unfair trial

Amal Alamuddin writes: Sentencing a political opponent to death after a show trial is no different to taking him out on the street and shooting him. In fact, it is worse because using the court system as a tool of state repression makes a mockery of the rule of law. Egypt’s constitution guarantees the right to be presumed innocent. And yet in a recent case, an Egyptian judge — after a “trial” lasting 100 minutes — sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death. Egypt’s constitution also guarantees freedom of speech, yet many journalists languish behind bars.

Three journalists working for the Al Jazeera English news network — Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — are among them. Mr. Fahmy used to work for CNN and the New York Times. Mr. Greste worked for the BBC and had only been in Egypt for a few days before his arrest. I am Mr. Fahmy’s lawyer and have had contact with him in Egypt. I have studied the case file, read the reports of trial observers who were at each court session, and read the judgment that sentences the journalists to lengthy prison terms of seven years or more. It is clear beyond doubt that their trial was unfair, and their conviction a travesty of justice.

What does the Egyptian state, through its prosecutors and judges, charge? That these three men promoted and gave material support to the Muslim Brotherhood group that they are members of; and that they produced false news that harms Egypt’s reputation and its national security. The judgment convicts them on all counts and finds that “through their actions, [they] had compiled audiovisual film material and falsified untrue events to be broadcast by a satellite channel in order to stir conflict within the Egyptian State.” More specifically, the judges condemn them for betraying “the noble profession of journalism” by “portraying the Country — untruthfully — to be in a state of chaos … internal strife and disarray.” This sinister plot was apparently orchestrated “upon the instructions of the … terrorist Muslim Brotherhood Group” headquartered at a Marriott hotel suite off Tahrir Square.

The story is completely fabricated. [Continue reading…]

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The war in Gaza threatens Egypt too

Shibley Telhami writes: Cairo’s efforts to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, according to conventional wisdom, have largely been dictated by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s animosity toward Hamas. After all, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Sisi’s government has declared a terrorist organization and regards as a serious threat.

That is why, this argument goes, the Egyptian ceasefire proposal ignored Hamas’ conditions and why the Israelis so quickly supported it. The proposal called for an immediate ceasefire. Only then would the terms be negotiated, including Hamas’ demands for an end to Israeli attacks, an end to the blockade of Gaza and the release of rearrested Palestinians who were freed in a prisoner 2011 exchange.

The story is far more complicated, however, for both Sisi and Egypt. Because the longer the war goes on, the more Gaza becomes a domestic problem for the Egyptian president. One he does not want.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks with Egyptian President al-Sisi in CairoIndeed, the fighting provides an opening for Sisi’s opponents. At a minimum, it creates a distraction the Egyptian president does not need now — he has said his priorities are the economy and internal security. So Sisi has a strong interest in ending the war, particularly since Hamas and its allies are exhibiting far more military muscle than anyone expected.

But Sisi is facing a number of major complications triggered by the war. [Continue reading…]

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Egypt: Morsi supporters jailed for 25 years for protesting without a permit

Al Ahram reports: A court in Minya has sentenced three supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to 25 years in prison for protesting without a permit.

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