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Ear to the Ground

Egypt Hands 529 Muslim Brothers the Death Sentence in One Day

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Posted on Mar 24, 2014

  A plainclothes security officer, holding a gun, detains a supporter of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the Cairo neighborhood of Nasr City. (AP/Ali Omar)

Apparently Egypt’s military rulers are prepared to go much further than previous dictatorships in quashing the opposition once and for all.

After a July 2013 coup removed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, from power, his political allies face stiff retribution. On Monday, a nominally independent court sentenced 529 Brotherhood members to death.

According to Amnesty International, the sentences exceed most countries’ use of the death penalty in any given year, and while Egypt does not release official statistics, the organization has counted many fewer formal executions in the past several years. “This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy Middle East and North Africa program director.

Morsi was removed when heavy-handed tactics brought protesters back into the streets and the military seized the opportunity to formally take control. Although the court sentencing the Brothers to death could be considered a separate entity and the military leaders have claimed as much, Amnesty points out that Egypt’s judicial system has largely ignored the “gross human rights violations” of the state security forces while keeping thousands of protesters in jail.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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