A death penalty for Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's general
guide, will infuriate members of the Brotherhood which has been the
target of raids, arrests and bans since President Mohamed Mursi was
forced from power by the military in July.
The movement says it is committed to peaceful activism. But some
Brotherhood members fear pressure from security forces and the
courts could drive some young members to violence against the
movement's old enemy the Egyptian state.
In a separate case, the court handed down a final capital punishment
ruling for 37 others. The 37 death sentences were part of a final
judgment on 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who were sentenced to
death last month. The remaining defendants were sentenced to life in
jail, judicial sources said.
Death sentence recommendations in the case involving Badie will be
passed on to Egypt's Mufti, the highest religious authority. His
opinion is not legally binding and can be ignored by the court.
Mass trials in the biggest Arab state have reinforced fears among
human rights groups that the military-backed government and
anti-Islamist judges are using all levers of power to crush dissent.
"The decisions are possibly the largest possible death sentences in
recent world history. While they're exceptional in scale, they're
certainly not exceptional in kind," said Sarah Leah Whitson,
executive director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights
"It seems that these sentences are aimed at striking fear and terror
into the hearts of those who oppose the interim government including
the interim government."
The rulings can be appealed. Many defendants are on the run.
Nevertheless, the cases have raised new questions about Egypt's
stumbling political transition three years after an army-backed
popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak and raised hopes of a
PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT BANNED
A pro-democracy movement that helped ignite the uprising that
toppled Mubarak in 2011 was banned by court order on Monday,
judicial sources and the website of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper
The ruling banning the activities of the April 6 movement follows
the imprisonment of three of its leading members last year on
charges of protesting illegally. The charges against April 6
included "damaging the image of the state", according to the
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As soon as word spread of the death sentences, relatives of the
defendants screamed and cried outside the court in the southern town
Some blamed Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who deposed President
Mursi of the Brotherhood last July. He is expected to easily win
presidential elections next month.
"Sisi is ruling like a king" and "May God punish you for what you
did" some people chanted.
Egypt's biggest political party until last year, the Brotherhood has
been outlawed and driven underground.
It has vowed to bring down the government through protests, even
though a security campaign has weakened the movement, which is
believed to have about one million supporters in the country of 85
Despite decades of repression under one Egyptian ruler after
another, the Brotherhood has managed to survive, winning over
Egyptians with its social networks and charities.
This time, it lost considerable popular support after Mursi was
accused of trying to acquire unlimited powers and mismanaging the
economy during his year in office.
But authorities still see the movement as a major threat.
Badie was charged with crimes including inciting violence that
followed the army overthrow of Mursi.
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and members of the security
forces have been killed in political violence and thousands of
Islamists and some secular dissidents jailed by authorities since
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; writing by Michael Georgy; editing by
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