Muslim Brotherhood debunked

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

Death sentences handed down to key Muslim Brotherhood figures add to the group’s woes.

Muslim Brotherhood debunked


In a landmark ruling on Monday, an emergency state security court issued death sentences to eight Muslim Brotherhood officials, including 80-year-old Mohamed Badie, the supreme guide of the group between 2010 and 2013. It is the third death penalty Badie, who has been in prison for over a decade, has received.

The latest case dates to 2013, a few days after the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president Mohamed Morsi was removed from office by the 30 June popular uprising. Among those sentenced to death are Badie’s successor, the 79-year-old Mahmoud Ezzat who became the Brotherhood’s acting supreme guide in 2013 until his arrest in August 2020 after seven years in hiding, and senior officials of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood whose candidate Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s president in 2012.

MP Mohamed Al-Beltagi; Osama Yassin, a youth minister under Morsi; the pro-Morsi preacher Safwat Hegazi; former MP Amr Zaki and FJP bureau members Essam Abdel-Maged and Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud all received capital sentences. The court sentenced 37 defendants to life in prison, six to 15 years and six defendants to 10. A further 21 defendants were acquitted.

Defendants have the right to appeal their sentences before the court of cassation within two months.

The Supreme State Security Prosecution referred the case to the State Security Court in April 2021. It held almost three years of deliberations and hearings before delivering its verdict this week.

Legal proceedings were originally initiated by the prosecution which accused the defendants of crimes that included membership of a proscribed group, inciting violence, engaging in acts of sabotage and murder. Charges also included the killing of police officer Ashraf Al-Sebaai and 14 citizens, possession of firearms and ammunition and organising illegal sit-ins, including in Rabaa Al-Adwiya Square and at the Platform (Manassa) Memorial.

Rabaa Al-Adwiya Square was subsequently renamed Hisham Barakat after the prosecutor-general assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2015.

Evidence against the defendants was given by 57 witnesses. In the course of the trial, the Prosecution Office presented an official report from the Transport Authority shedding light on the damages incurred at locations where acts of violence were committed, most notably bus stations on Al-Nasr Road.

Article 12 of the Anti-Terrorism Law stipulates the death sentence or life imprisonment for individuals found guilty of establishing or managing a terrorist group and of committing acts of violence, sabotage, and murder.

The sentences against the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders are the latest in a series since the group lost power in July 2013. In December 2013 the group was designated a terrorist organization by presidential decree, meaning anyone who is a member of the Brotherhood or who participates in its activities is subject to prosecution under the penal code and terrorism laws. Membership of a terrorist group is punishable by five years in prison. The maximum sentence for providing weapons and ammunition to a local terrorist group is death.

The judgement represents a major blow to the 96-year-old organisation which survived for years in the shadows under presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Anwar Al-Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of its leaders fled Egypt to Qatar, Turkey, and England from which countries the group’s remnants have led a hostile media campaign against Egypt.

MP and political journalist Mustafa Bakri said this week’s death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood leaders lay bare the group’s involvement in terrorist activities that threatened Egypt’s national security.

“This is a group which has always resorted to violence and terrorism to impose its radical agenda on people in Egypt and other countries,” said Bakri.

“Countries like Tunisia, Morocco, and Sudan all followed Egypt by designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and cracking down on its leaders.”

“In Tunisia, Muslim Brotherhood leader Rashed Al-Ghannoushi was sentenced last month to three years in prison after he was found guilty of inciting violence and illegally receiving foreign funds to finance the group’s illegal activities.”

MP Mahmoud Badr argued that the sentences further isolate the Muslim Brotherhood, placing any political dialogue or reconciliation with the group out of reach.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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