Pro-Morsi alliance praises former president's 'resistance' during trial

Ahram Online, Monday 4 Nov 2013

Several political forces criticise the live-transmission ban of Morsi's Monday hearing

Morsi trial
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters converge at army-set barricades near the Police Academy in New Cairo to holler support for Morsi on opening day of trial on inciting murder charges (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition, praised what it described as the deposed president's "resistance in the face of the coup's judges," during the beginning of his trial in court Monday, which the former president has refused to recognise.

"The alliance asserts the president's rejection of these invalid trial proceedings… [and] carries a message to the people to continue defending legitimacy, [against] the bloody coup leaders until they are defeated," the alliance said in a statement on Monday.

The 62 year-old, on trial with 14 other Islamist co-defendants - over charges of inciting violence and murder in December 2012 against their opponents - refused to wear the obligatory white suit for proceedings, dressing in a navy blue jacket over a white shirt. He also held up his hand, open with the four-fingered symbol used to evoke the Rabaa El-Adawiya sit-in by his supporters, which was forcibly dispersed in August leaving at least 600 dead.

The alliance, that has been protesting daily nationwide ahead of the trial, called on its supporters to continue their demonstrations Tuesday, dubbing them, ‘the world commends the president's resistance.’

Meanwhile, the moderate Islamist Strong Egypt Party said, although Morsi's trial reflects the rule of law, it is unacceptable that army and police officials are not also tried.

"The deposed president's trial is acceptable on the basis that it puts the law above everyone, yet it remains [unacceptable] that justice is implemented on him and not on his Interior Minister [Mohamed Ibrahim] and his defence minister [army Commander-in-Chief] Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi," said a statement issued by the party led by Abd El-Monem Abo El-Fotouh, ex-presidential contender and former Brotherhood member, who left the group after the 2011 uprising.

El-Sisi announced Morsi's ouster on 3 July and has gained widespread popularity since then. Ibrahim and El-Sisi remain in office, as significant players in Egypt's transitional period, marked by a heavy security crackdown on Brotherhood loyalists.

"[Morsi's trial] requires that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces [SCAF] that ruled Egypt for a year and a half [following ex-president Hosni Mubarak's ouster in 2011] is also tried regarding the killing of [protesters]," it added, "And, also requires a new trial for Mubarak loyalists that committed political and social crimes against the Egyptian people for 30 years."

The Salafist Nour party – which supported Morsi's ouster – argued that the trial lacks transparency. "I'm afraid the charges levied against the former president are politicised," spokesman for the party Abdel-Ghaffar Taha was quoted as saying by Ahram Arabic.

"It is well known that most of those who died during the presidential palace clashes were from the Muslim Brotherhood, how can he be tried for killing his own supporters?"

Controversy among political forces surrounded the authorities' decision not to transmit the proceedings of the trial live.

However, leading member of the liberal Constitution Party, Haitham El-Khatib, supported the ban on broadcasting the trial. "The decision is in the country's best interests, as it could prevent the provocation of Morsi's supporters, which would lead to the spread of chaos in the country," he told Ahram Arabic’s news website Monday.

Prominent anti-Morsi youth group Tamarod (‘Rebel’), which played a major role in staging the mass protests that was followed by his ouster, hailed the trial as the realisation of the "people's promise to put Morsi back in jail," according to the group's co-founder Hassam Shahin. However, the group still criticised the ban on broadcasting the session.

"Any question regarding the credibility of reports by media outlets who had exclusive access to the session might create controversy among the people," spokesman for Tamarod Khaled El-Qadi told Ahram Arabic’s news website.

The 6th of April Youth Movement also pointed to a lack of transparency in banning the transmission of the hearing.

"It is an episode that has been repeating itself since the 25 January," spokesman for 6 April, Khaled El-Masri, told Ahram Arabic. "All details of the trial should be evident to the public."

Morsi's trial was adjourned to 8 January. Following the session, the deposed president was transferred to Borg-Al-Arab prison in Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria.

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