Egyptian Islamist preacher Hegazy says released photos of arrest fake

Ahram Online, Saturday 7 Dec 2013

The high-profile Islamist preacher, renonwed for his support for ousted president Mohamed Morsi, denies appearing in photos released by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior following his arrest in August

One of the photos preacher Safwat Hegazy says are fake, left, contrasted with one taken prior to his arrest (Photo: Interior Ministry Media Sector Facebook page - AP)

Egyptian hardline Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy said Saturday during his ongoing trial that photos of him following his arrest released by Egypt's Interior Ministry were fabricated, according to the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party website.

Hegazy, who appeared in court on Saturday along with FJP leader Mohamed El-Beltagy – both charged with inciting violence – reportedly said photos released online by the ministry upon his arrest in August were fake.

The photos showed him with a shaved beard and only a dyed-black goatee. Hegazy stated that he never shaved his beard prior to his arrest.

The allegedly fabricated photos of Hegazy stirred public confusion following their release over the significant changes in his appearance since his detainment. It was widely believed that he had changed his appearance to avoid detection.

Hegazy appeared in photos of Saturday's court session with his trademark white beard.

In Saturday's hearing, Hegazy and Beltagy repeatedly chanted against the military and the judiciary, propelling the Cairo Criminal Court judges to recuse themselves from the trial.

The two Islamist figures face trial on charges of detaining and torturing two policemen at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in on 7 August.

A week after security forces dispersed the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in condemning the ouster of Islamist president Morsi, Hegazy was arrested on 21 August near Siwa, in Egypt’s western desert.

Security forces cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following the dispersal of two main pro-Morsi sit-ins, including Rabaa Al-Adawiya, on 14 August. Thousands of Brotherhood members were arrested in the aftermath.

Hegazy has been one of the most prominent supporters of the Brotherhood and Morsi. He was known to be present in the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adawiya protest camp where he voiced highly controversial statements about the Brotherhood's political opponents. 

Senior Brotherhood leader El-Beltagy was arrested on 29 August in Giza. El-Beltagy's daughter, Asmaa (17) died during the crackdown on 14 August.

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