Rulings in Islamist cases raise questions in Cairo

There does seem to be a movement towards some accom­modation between Egyptian government and Brotherhood on both sides.

Lawyers representing members of Muslim Brotherhood


2016/11/27 Issue: 83 Page: 4


The Arab Weekly
Ahmed Jamal



CAIRO - Egypt’s Cassation Court has upheld an appeal filed by ousted Islamist president Muhammad Morsi, the deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shatir, and 22 others against life sentences they were given for spy­ing for the Palestinian movement Hamas. The court ordered a retrial of all defendants.

The ruling came only a week after another court overturned a death sentence against Morsi and a number of Brotherhood members on charges of breaking out of jail during the 2011 popular uprising.

Some observers questioned whether these rulings were part of a government effort to mend fenc­es with the Brotherhood.

Others downplayed the impor­tance of the court decisions, say­ing the overturning of two death sentences against Morsi was due to legal loopholes. They said this does not amount to a change in govern­ment policy towards the Brother­hood.

“The court rulings handed down against Morsi and other Brother­hood leaders were based on inves­tigations by security agencies,” said Mustafa Kamel al-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo Univer­sity. “Nonetheless, these investiga­tions were insufficient to establish correct evidence.”

Either way, there does seem to be a movement towards some accom­modation between the Egyptian government and the Brotherhood on both sides.

On November 19th, the deputy Muslim Brotherhood leader, Ibra­him Mounir, called for reconcili­ation in Egypt, recognising, ob­servers say, that its international support was narrowing with the US presidential election victory of Donald Trump.

Some Brotherhood-backing states, such as Turkey and Qatar, they say, also realise that maintain­ing this backing will cost them on the international scene.

Adding to the evolving situation, the Egyptian government recently released a group of political prison­ers, with a second group expected to be released in the near future.

“This [changing] atmosphere will open the door for some compro­mises, which reflects the govern­ment’s desire to reach calm with its opponents,” said Tarek Fahmi, a researcher with the National Cen­tre for Middle East Studies, a Cairo think-tank.

The government, Fahmi said, has realised its unending crackdown on the Brotherhood will not be pro­ductive in the long term.

Debates on the latest court rul­ings were not confined to the rela­tion between the government and the Brotherhood. They also includ­ed Hamas, especially after Egypt’s administrative court appealed a previous ruling, labelling the Pal­estinian movement as a terrorist organisation.

Egypt has also made efforts in the last few weeks to improve con­ditions in the Gaza Strip by reopen­ing the Rafah crossing on its bor­der. Egypt also received the leaders of some Palestinian factions to dis­cuss a solution to Palestinian inter­nal problems.


Ahmed Gamal is an Egyptian writer.


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