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Egyptian mass death sentences cause controversy

by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor

A court in Minya, Egypt has sentenced 528 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death. The group is a part of 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who are on trial.

The supporters were convicted of the murder of the deputy commander of the Matay district police station in Minya. The attack took place in August after security broke up two camps of pro-Morsi protestors in Cairo, killing hundreds of people.

The court issued the sentence after only two sessions where the defendants’ lawyers claimed they had no chance to present their case and the presiding judge was denying justice to the accused.

Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on Islamists since Morsi was removed from his position, and thousands have been killed or arrested in the process. The Brotherhood has even been declared as a terrorist organization, and its activists are seen as hostile towards the government.

“The crisis going on in the Middle East is barbaric. The military is killing hundreds of people for having a different point of view than them! This sentence is unjust and I hope the UN does something about it,” said junior Jordan Bussiere.

They are expected to appeal, but the verdict now lies in the hands of Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s supreme religious authority, for approval or rejection.

The final trial will be held on April 28, so there is still time to appeal before the final decision is made.

The Muslim Brotherhood has made it clear that they think the death sentences are wrong, and the UN has condemned the Egyptian court’s decision.

Hundreds of Minya University students came out to protest the trials. Tear gas was dropped on them for blocking a main road and throwing rocks at police officers.

“It is hard for me to understand how there could have been a fair trial if there was only two sessions. The Egyptian court acts as if the lives of these 528 people are nothing and have no problem sentencing them to death just because they support the Muslim Brotherhood. They are even dropping tear gas on their own young adults living in Minya because they don’t agree with their decision. It is ridiculous,” said senior Kylie Scannella.

Egypt’s interim government supports the court’s decision, despite the fact that the UN has called it unprecedented and 16 Egyptian rights groups have voiced their concern over it.

The wife of one of the accused told BBC news she was worried the court’s decision was made in advance, and that her husband was an innocent man who was arrested on his way to pick up his daughter from the hospital.

Stories like this have become more and more common as hundreds of people are being arrested on a daily basis for similar crimes relating to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian military has made it no secret they they are not fond of the Brotherhood by publicly punishing its supporters.

What do you think of the Minya court’s ruling? Do you think the trials were fair?

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