The heads of local branches of Egypt's Lawyers Syndicate will decide this week on a call for a general strike on 23 March to protest a prison sentence against eight lawyers in Minya governorate for insulting the judiciary.
On Sunday, a Minya Criminal Court sentenced the lawyers to five year in prison over charges of blocking access to a public facility, preventing a judge from carrying out his duty, as well as insulting the judiciary in a case that dates back to the defendants' protest outside a local court in March 2013.
The syndicate decided on Sunday to boycott court sessions in all of Minya's criminal courts.
The defendants were tried and sentenced by the criminal court despite the fact that the judge who filed the initial complaint against them had withdrawn his motion.
Abdel-Gawad Ahmed, a member of the Lawyers Syndicate board and head of the union's freedoms committee, told Ahram Online that the Minya action "was not a protest, it was a regular disagreement that should have ended with conciliation; however, the court issued a harsh verdict, despite the withdrawal of the complaint."
"There is rigidity in dealing with lawyers in different cases around Egypt's governorates, especially when lawyers are defendants in a case. Lawyers are practicing their job in a difficult environment. This is affecting the future of this profession," Ahmed said.
"So far, the only decision regarding the case is to boycott sessions in Minya, and there are shows of solidarity from lawyers in other governorates against the harsh verdict. However, the issue of a general strike will be decided based on our assessment of the threats against our profession and developments on the ground," Ahmed said.