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Severe sentences for Alexandria female protesters spark Egypt outcry
Heavy jail sentences issued by an Alexandria court against 21 female Islamist protesters illicit widespread condemnation, including from secular and liberal political ranks
Tony Gamal Gabriel, El-Sayed Gamal Eddin, Thursday 28 Nov 2013
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Egyptian women
Egyptian women supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi stand inside the defentants' cage in a courtroom in Alexandria, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. (Photo: AP)

The severe jail sentences handed down by an Alexandria Misdemeanour Court to 21 female Islamist protesters in the Mediterranean city has sparked outrage in Egypt.

In a particularly harsh ruling, the court slammed 14 female protesters with 11 years and one month in jail for destruction of private property, attacking security forces and stirring violence, and ordered that seven female minors be placed in a detention centre until they reach the age of majority. The underage girls range from 15 to 17 years.

The 21 female protesters were arrested in late October during clashes with residents following a demonstration calling for the reinstatement of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Authorities accused the demonstrators of inciting violence, blocking roads and damaging shop facades.

Mahmoud Gaber, lawyer for the women, told Ahram Online he has appealed against the ruling, deeming it illegal. He said that according to established procedures, a defendant found guilty on several charges in one judicial case should only face the harshest penalty from among the charges, and not have all the penalties added up. "This is a political ruling," Gaber said. "If misdemeanour courts rule such harsh penalties, what is left for criminal courts?"

However, Nasser Amin, the head of the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and a member of the National Council for Human Rights, told Ahram Online that some judges believe they can add up penalties when they concern different misdemeanours.

Amin said the ruling was "extremely harsh" and should be cancelled immediately. He added that he was sure the appeal would be accepted because "the court will be conscious of the harshness of the verdict."

The Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement published on its website that the ruling was politicised, warning that such rulings raised "doubts over the future of justice in Egypt" and presaged a return to the use of "justice institutions as a tool against the opposition.”

Gamal Eid, the head of ANHRI, wrote on Twitter that, "In the city of Alexandria, the same justice released Wael El-Komi, a defendant accused of killing 37 martyrs, and sentenced 14 girls to 11 years (of jail)." "The state of law welcomes you," he added ironically.

Police Major Wael El-Komy, formerly chief of investigations in Raml district in Alexandria, stands accused of being personally responsible for the killing of no less than 37 protesters in Alexandria in a single day, 28 January 2011, during the Egyptian revolution.

"Kill and torture and wait for acquittal … Demonstrate with your weak voice and your frail body and power will pursue you," the Strong Egypt Party said in a statement.

On his Twitter account, former presidential candidate and Nasserist figure Hamdeen Sabbahi called on "President Adly Mansour to use his powers to pardon the girls."

On Thursday, several student unions in different faculties in Alexandria Universitiy resigned over the ruling, according to Egypt's state news agency MENA. They also called on students to go on strike until the 21 female detainees are released.

Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement also condemned the ruling. Mohamed Kamal, member of the group's political bureau, said Thursday the verdict was yet another episode showing the empowerment of an oppressive regime that wants to tighten its grip on the country, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Also in reaction to the ruling, the website of the Judges' Club, an independent and influential representative body, was targeted by an anonymous hacker, calling himself Pharaoh and distancing himself from the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I never thought that one day I would defend a Brotherhood member," the hacker wrote on the website, with a picture of the culprits in the court dock. "But today … I will defend 14 girls condemned to 11 years of jail," he added. "Despite my hatred for the Brotherhood, this is injustice."

The website was later shut down for maintenance.

The Alexandria ruling is being seen as part of the wide crackdown led by Egyptian authorities against Islamists since Morsi's ouster. More than 2,000 Muslim Brotherhood members have been detained on charges of inciting violence, including the group's top leaders.

Earlier in November, a court sentenced 12 university students to 17 years in prison over riots at Al-Azhar Institution, also stiring criticism over the harshness of the sentence. The students were found guilty of attempting to storm the headquarters of the institution, inciting riots and attacking Al-Azhar employees and security personnel, as well as sabotaging public and private property. They were ordered to pay a fine of LE64,000 each.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been staging near daily protests calling for the reinstatement of Morsi who was deposed by the military 3 July amid mass protests against his rule. Pro-Morsi protests chanting against the military have often descended into clashes with security forces and local residents with anti-Brotherhood sentiments.





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12



Farhan
17-12-2013 09:46pm
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Even Hitler and Musolini didn't send kids to prison for protests.
These people are fascists of worst kind.
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abdulrahman
04-12-2013 01:26pm
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The Attitude Of Judges
Let us not lose sight of justice. There is a sharp contrast in the judges attitude towards Mubarak and his loyalists when compared how with those who are anti coup Egyptians. The severe sentences meted by the judges on the young Egyptian women reflected that the judges were trying to please the illegal regime. The judges in Egypt have failed to proceed against Mubarak and his loyalists. But, look at the speed of their actions and the severity of punishments when it involved anti coup politicians. These are all " manifestations of judges' mental state which are not free to dispense justice ". The people in authority in Egypt today is living on the blood of their fellow Egyptians. If they have no shame or feeling of guilt, they should fear their creators.
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10



jmk
30-11-2013 10:28pm
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11 girls
Looks like Zainab al Ghazalis story is qbout to be revisited, Was nt she rather victorious in the END! What happened to common sense, what happened is that incarceration is the only tool in order to leave a message to the young Egyptian women that this is what happens when you speak OUT. I hope all these young women emergevas our generations Zainab al Ghazali, be brave young souls'
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9



Allen
29-11-2013 06:49pm
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Simple minded girls
Who knows what the Muslim brotherhood terrorists promised these misguided girls to go out and behave like hoodlums. Now they are being exploited by the brotherhood as creatures that should not pay for their crimes because they are women... Since when Islamists respected women, or their rights????? Face reality girls, commit the crime, you pay the price. Give my regards to Morsi while you are enjoying your imprisonment,
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8



Bubbly
28-11-2013 08:28pm
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Pharoahs
Yes,Egyptains Pharoahs vanished from the world but their offsprings still exist in Egypt,some joined Egypt Army & police while rest you can see here appreciating and feel proud on the crims of their siblings against poor egyptians.
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7



Modern_Humaniora
28-11-2013 08:09pm
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The myth is crossed
The fascist regime in Egypt is psychologically beaten. The army and the people were never one hand. The myth is crossed. Gen. Al-Sisi crossed the myth. Thank you Gen. Al-Sisi! Formidably well done. MB tried to handle the situation but too many minds could not, at the time, see the the reality of all those corrupt structures. But now you know, don't you...
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Frastrated Egyptian
28-11-2013 06:27pm
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No sempathy for girl or boy that dose not repect the low
Demonstration low should apply on every body, so the country can move on. Those who opstructing the advancment of Egypt should be punished and become example for who ever want to do the same mistak
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Samantha Criscione
28-11-2013 06:21pm
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Provacateurs trying to sabatoge the fight against terror must be punished harshly
Why did the Brotherhood send these women to stage a violent street action, attacking stores, store keepers, and security forces, thus provoking their own arrests? They did it as part of a campaign of provocation intended to undermine political support for the government's crucial fight against Brotherhood terror. Now, as part of the same campaign to sabotage the anti-terror fight, we have provocateurs like Alaa Abd El-Fattah and his sister Mona Seif and others of the same type, who in the past have fronted for the Brotherhood and crossed the line between protest and terror -- we have them provoking confrontations over the protest law. The purpose of the law is to control the use by the Brotherhood and its allies of protests to carry out acts of terror and destabilize Egypt. Provocation in the midst of a real war against terror is a serious business, and these provocateurs, who have gotten away with murder in the past by calling themselves 'revolutionaries,' should pay dearly, despite hypocritical criticism from their sponsors in the U.S., German and other governments. -- Samantha Criscione
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Ostasia
29-11-2013 01:01am
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Once again,
very well said and I have nothing to add. Exactly how I think. Thanks Samantha, good to know I'm not alone with this opinion.
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Um-Zienab, Cairo
28-11-2013 04:33pm
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Devils
Do not be deceived by their appearance. They are devils promoting evil doings. Egypt is moving from Dark Age to dawn of civilization.
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3



Nathalie
28-11-2013 04:28pm
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Please explain
Is that for each lady or 11 years and one month divided between them all ?? Thanks
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Guest
28-11-2013 07:18pm
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for each of the 14 girls 11 years
I also think the sentences are far too harsh. A few months, max. one year, would fully do. Perhaps Egyptian courts should consider sentencing culprits who commit violence and destroy public or private property (and that is what these innocent-looking young ladies did!) to a certain amount of community work, giving them a chance to compensate for the damage they caused.

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