In a trial that may be unprecedented anywhere in the world, an Egyptian court recently returned 528 death sentences to many supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In what is seen as the latest attempt to destroy the group, the military government held the mass trial over two days in the city of Minya.
Amnesty International’s Mid-East and North Africa Deputy Director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, in a report issued earlier in the week, called it “the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences” seen in recent years.
Sahraoui said the Egyptian death sentences issued in one day surpassed what some countries have rendered in a year.
The military government’s war against the Brotherhood, which began with the removal, arrest and prosecution of President Mohamed Morsi, has now reached down into its membership.
The group, once led by Morsi, has deep roots in Egyptian society. It was founded in 1928 by an elementary school teacher, Hasan al-Banna (1906-49) who called for a non-political, religious organization to cleanse Egyptian society, by a return to Islamic principles. The group opposed the introduction of foreign, European influences in the country.*
The Brotherhood may have begun as a non-political group, but it has faced decades of political repression from various governments, from Anwar Sadat to Hosni Mubarak. In the vacuum left after the mass protests forced Mubarak from power, the MB saw a rare opportunity to take power. They did so, but they underestimated the rightwing military, which resolved to remove them from the political realm.
Today, under the military government, we see a quasi-military operation against them – using the judiciary as a tool — or, better – a weapon – to destroy them.
Mubarak may no longer be in power — but his anti-Brotherhood program continues.
Hundreds of death sentences – and a complete ban against a group that has existed longer than Egypt’s government has been independent.
It seems to me, the war (not to mention, the revolution!) ain’t over.