Egypt PM says arrests of Islamists are legitimate

Ahram Online, Monday 16 Sep 2013

Arrests of Islamists comply with law, state of emergency required to combat terrorism and violence, says interim PM Hazem El-Beblawi

Egyptian interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi has defended the recent clampdown on Islamists, claiming all arrests were made following the issuance of arrest warrants by the prosecutor-general.

Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members have been arrested since the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares on 14 August.

Former president Mohamed Morsi, held incommunicado since his ouster on 3 July, Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, and his second-in-command Khairat El-Shater all face charges related to the incitement of violence.

El-Beblawi said all those arrested would be tried under the regular criminal law, not emergency provisions.  

"Regarding trials of civilians in military courts, these are only for people accused of attacking members of the armed forces and military facilities, or trespassing on military sites," he added in a press release.

On Tuesday, four Egyptian NGOs urged interim president Adly Mansour to "immediately amend the law to prohibit military trials of civilians."

The army has convicted more than 60 people since Morsi's ouster, the NGOs said.

El-Beblawi said Thursday's decision to extend the state of emergency - imposed when the pro-Morsi sit-ins were cleared - was taken for security reasons due to continued violence and "terrorism" in recent days.

He cited the assassination attempt against the interior minister, and the attack that killed 25 soldiers in Rafah.

Political figures expressed support for the extension during a meeting with Mansour, presidential spokesman Ihab Badawy stated on Sunday

April 6 Youth Movement, in coordination with the Revolutionary Socialists and Strong Egypt Party, has called for a protest on Monday afternoon to demand an end to the state of emergency and to protest what they describe as random and politicised arrests.

Emergency laws were in place throughout the 30-year rule of former president Hosni Mubarak. Their cancellation was a key demand of the January 2011 uprising.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) cancelled the emergency law during its period of rule.

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