Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Should Egypt execute Mursi and the Brotherhood elite? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this file April 2011 photo, Mohamed Mursi (R) speaks, alongside other members of the Muslim Brotherhood group’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), during a news conference in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Both sides in Egypt chose to escalate the conflict. Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled and settled abroad made a conscious decision to defy the regime, justifying the killings in Sinai and threatening the current Egyptian regime. As for the prosecutor, he chose to submit a petition against the imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood senior leaders, accusing them of two charges, espionage and prison break, that can lead straight to the gallows.

The opinion of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, who must sign the judge’s petition before the sentences are carried out, is yet to be announced before the final court hearing. But the question remains: Will these provisions be implemented? Will ousted former president Mohamed Mursi be executed? What about the Brotherhood’s leader in Egypt, Mohammad Badie, and the group’s longtime behind-the-scenes orchestrator Khairat El-Shater? A large number of the Brotherhood’s members and ministers who served when the group was in power have also been been sentenced by the judge; will they also meet their demise through the hangman’s noose?

This possibility cannot be ruled out. Sayyid Qutb, the Brotherhood’s chief ideologue, was executed in 1966 on similar charges—for conspiring against the Egyptian state. The current political climate is similar to that of the 1960s. High-ranked convicts will be led to the gallows, without taking into account calls for clemency and mediations, which will only arise after the confirmation of the sentences. A state of defiance and tension is prevailing in Egypt; the Egyptian regime believes the Muslim Brotherhood is still waging wars against the country and that the group’s leaders living abroad may want to have another Sayyid Qutb case to exploit in their political battle.

It is also believed that the Brotherhood is no longer able to control the practices and statements of its leaders who became hostages to external forces aiming to expand the circle of conflict inside Egypt. This is at least what one Arab Muslim Brotherhood member believes. He says the organization lost its clout when it took power, then failed during the brief period it held the presidency, and, as a result, ended up with its senior leadership languishing in prison. The rulings have entangled all the organization’s leaders because they failed to keep an eye of what was happening around them; they got involved in the battle and became easy targets. This member believes that due to the absence of its leadership on the ground, certain governments that are currently “at war” with Egypt have attempted to take advantage and make use of the group’s cause in the media and on political and military fronts. Consequently, there is now little chance for reconciliation or lenient sentences.

No one wants to witness bloodshed in Sinai or in Cairo, regardless of the final verdict. However, it seems that the situation will inevitably become inflamed in the country if President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi doesn’t interfere and grant amnesty to the Brotherhood’s leaders and members—a move which falls within his constitutional remit as president.