Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi was sentenced this week, along with other Muslim Brotherhood officials, to 20 years in prison over the killing of demonstrators outside the presidential palace in 2012. He now faces other charges that could lead to further prison time or to the death penalty. What happened at that demonstration, called to protest against a decree that his decisions would be immune to judicial oversight until a new constitutional charter was in place, has always been unclear and remains so after a trial from which the press was largely excluded. The probability is that there was both provocation and a loss of control on both sides, compounded by the refusal of the security forces to intervene. It is perhaps telling that the majority of those who died were supporters of the Brotherhood.
What is clear, however, is that the case is part of the relentless judicial pursuit of Mr Morsi and his colleagues by the new regime in Egypt, a pursuit quite unmatched by an equivalent determination to hold to account those guilty of serious offences on the anti-Morsi side. Their sins are excused or obfuscated, and the trial of Mr Morsi is only one of many in which due process appears to have been cast aside, the overall objective appearing to be to criminalise an entire political movement. A blanket terrorist label has thus been slapped on the Brotherhood, and nearly all its leaders are in detention. But they are not the only victims. Civil society organisations have been closed, the press is controlled, and journalists have been jailed. Secular opponents of the government, including figures who initially supported the coup against Mr Morsi by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in 2013, also find themselves harassed and persecuted.
Source: the Guardian