Egyp­tians re­act to mass death sen­tence

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Five months ago, 30-year-old Abu Bakr Ismail, a phar­ma­cist and fa­ther of two, was ar­rested by se­cu­rity forces at his workplace and carted off to jail. The move stunned his fam­ily, who say Ismail was an ob­ser­vant tra­di­tional Mus­lim.

“My brother is an in­no­cent man,” 29-year-old Amr Ismail said. “He was ar­rested be­cause he was bearded and mem­o­rised the Qu­ran.”

Abu Bakr Ismail was one of 683 people sen­tenced to death in a Minya court­house on Mon­day for charges of in­cit­ing vi­o­lence in an Au­gust 14, 2013 riot at the Edwa po­lice sta­tion in Minya, 245km south of Cairo.

All of the ac­cused, in­clud­ing in­car­cer­ated Mus­lim Brother­hood Supreme Guide Mo­hamed Badie, are ac­cused of be­ing mem­bers or sup­port­ers of the out­lawed Mus­lim Brother­hood and for­mer Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi.

The at­tack at the po­lice sta­tion came af­ter se­cu­rity forces vi­o­lently dis­persed proMorsi protest camps in Cairo af­ter Morsi’s ouster in July of 2013.

Be­fore the sen­tences can be car­ried out, Egyp­tian law re­quires the pre­sid­ing judge to con­firm the sen­tences af­ter re­fer­ral to Al-Azhar Grand Mufti Shawki Al­lam, who can re­ject or ac­cept the rul­ing. Many be­lieve this is sim­ply a for­mal­ity.

Late Mon­day evening, Egyp­tian Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral He­sham Barakat is­sued no­tice to ap­peal the sen­tence, but this has not com­forted fam­ily mem­bers of the ac­cused.

Na­hed Mo­hamed, the wife of Ez­zat Mo­hamed, 44, said she had no idea why her hus­band was ar­rested while pray­ing in a Minya mosque. Since Mon­day’s sen­tence came down, she and their four chil­dren have been pray­ing for his re­lease.

Of the 683 men sen­tenced on Mon­day, sev­eral dozen were in cus­tody, while those still at large have been of­fered a re­trial if they turn them­selves in.

The Mus­lim Brother­hood’s po­lit­i­cal wing, the Free­dom and Jus­tice Party, swiftly is­sued a state­ment crit­i­cis­ing the rul­ing. The en­tire af­fair, the state­ment said, “con­tra­dicts all of the world’s le­gal norms.”

For­eign gov­ern­ments and hu­man-rights groups have also con­demned the sen­tences.

“It is im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that such pro­ceed­ings could meet even the most ba­sic stan­dards of jus­tice,” US State Depart­ment spokesper­son Jen Psaki said, while Amnesty In­ter­na­tional deemed the tri­als “deeply flawed and grossly un­fair.”

Amr Ismail said each of the con­victed men, in­clud­ing his brother, had more than 100 pages of al­le­ga­tions brought against them, but they were not al­lowed to see any of the ev­i­dence.

In Cairo, limited clashes and protests broke out over news of the sen­tences. Ar­rests and in­juries were re­ported at the Al-Azhar Univer­sity cam­pus af­ter po­lice and se­cu­rity per­son­nel con­fronted demon­stra­tors there, but the rest of the city re­mained rel­a­tively calm

PHOTO

Egyp­tians screamed and wept upon hear­ing that 683 people were sen­tenced to death

[ Transterra/Al Jazeera].

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