The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood along with 180 others was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court on June 21st. Saturday’s ruling by a criminal court in southern Minya, which was part of the latest mass trial, after the ousting of Egypt’s Islamist president last year, also happens to be the largest confirmed mass death sentence to be handed down in the country in recent times.
This is the second death sentence being faced by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammad Badie, since his group came under the scanner following Hosni Mubarak’s ousting in 2013. Apart from those sentenced to death, 400 others from the group have been acquitted in a case that involved attacks on a police station in el-Adwa near Minya in August 2013.
Earlier, Judge Youssef, who was presiding over the case, sentenced approximately 683 people to death but after Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s highest spiritual leader, advised him otherwise, Youssef brought down the count to 180 plus.
“There has been an excess in using the death sentences recently, which will only lead to more violence in society because people are now used to the idea of execution, killing and blood,” said prominent rights lawyer Negad el-Borai.
Despite the mass trials being criticized by other countries, Egyptians believe such heavy-handed measures are the only way to end the turmoil that has been plaguing their country since the 2011 revolt against Islamist autocrat Hosni Mubarak. According to a security official, Saturday’s hearing was wrapped up within 15 minutes and only 75 prisoners of the 180 plus were brought to a prison attached to the court but they were not allowed to attend the hearing.