Mass death sentence

March 26, 2014 - 5:30:47 am

The sentencing of 529 Brotherhood members to death by an Egyptian court has been greeted with both shock and ridicule.


The mass death sentence which the Egyptian rulers are meting out to its opponents has shocked even the supporters of the current regime. An Egyptian court in the city of Minya on Monday sentenced 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death for their alleged role in the killing of a policeman. And yesterday, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 others went on trial on charges including murder. It’s likely that most or even all of them might suffer the same fate of the previous 529.   Ironically, the first group convicted after just two court sessions, most in absentia and without being allowed to present a defence. It’s unlikely that anybody would doubt the integrity of the judges who delivered the verdict and the fairness of the judicial system. Because, the judges and the judicial system don’t have any integrity and fairness in the first place, both having been sacrificed at the doorstep of the post-Mursi government.

The mass trials and death sentences will be treated with both shock and ridicule by the outside world. It’s the biggest in Egypt’s modern history and could even create history in the region if implemented.

Opposition to the Egyptian court is coming  from all over the world. The UN human rights office said Monday’s mass death sentences contravened international law and the ruling was also criticised by the European Union and the United States. “The imposition of the death penalty for 529 defendants after a two-day summary proceeding cannot be reconciled with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law, and its implementation of these sentences ... would be unconscionable,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a news briefing in Washington.  At the same time, Washington’s displeasure is only peripheral. The Obama administration enjoys enough influence in Cairo and if seriously interested, it can persuade and even force the current military rulers to respect international norms while dealing with the opposition.

There are signs that the crackdown on Brotherhood will intensify further ahead of presidential elections that army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al Sisi is expected to win. The targeting of Brotherhood has only created chaos and instability in the country and its economy is in tatters. It’s time for the rulers to focus on governance and bring stability and peace back to the country, and launch measure to revive the moribund economy which has suffered lethal blows since the uprising began. The country needs to woo tourists back, since tourism is the mainstay of the economy and the first requirement for the same is peace.

Sisi must shed an attitude of vengeance and adopt the path of reconciliation.