By Ahva Sadeghi
Tensions in Egypt have been stirring up as President Mohammed Morsi finally made his way back to Cairo after being overthrown by the military on July 3rd. It has only been a little over a year since President Morsi was freely elected through the democratic process in Egypt. Today, Egypt’s deposed president is on trial for charges of incitement of violence and murder, conspiring with Hamas and insulting judges. If President Morsi is convicted with these charges, he might be facing a punishment as grave as the death penalty.
Aside from the logistics of the trial, there is much heated debate about President Morsi’s treatment and actions during the case. President Morsi is on trial with fourteen other Muslim Brotherhood members. However, President Morsi has been observed to receive much better treatment than all the other men on trial. President Morsi was airlifted in Cairo and only used a helicopter as a mode of transportation. Other defendants are maneuvered through the city by vecihiles instead. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton reported that President Morsi was the only person on trial to show up wearing a suit. The other defendants were forced to wear the white boiler suits of prisoners. Egyptian law states that all prisoners are suppose to wear the white boiler suit before they are found guilty. President Morsi claims to refuse wearing the mandated attire because of illegitimacy of the trial. He remarked, “I don’t like it for the judges to be part in the coup. I am present only in court because of coercion.” The paper El-Watan reveals in a transcript that President Morsi still asserts himself as the leader of Egypt.
However, there are many legitimate events that support the charges placed on these men such as the uprising last December outside President Morsi’s presidential palace that left ten dead. Events such as these are crucial components in the trial and discussion of the charges. There is, also, plenty of evidence of human rights violations and diversion from the ideals of democracy. It is important to acknowledge that the different supporters in opposition do tangle these allegations up and point fingers of blame at one another. In one instance Amnesty International boldly reveals that supporters of President Morsi have tortured Anti-Morsi protestors, or so been claimed to do so through testimonials from Anti-Morsi protestors. Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International stated, “The apparent use of torture for reprisal attacks is unacceptable. People should not take the law into their own hands. Political leaders have a responsibility to condemn these criminal acts and call on their supporters to renounce such human rights abuses. The Egyptian government must not, however, use these crimes, carried out by few, as a pretext to collectively punish all pro-Morsi supporters or use excessive force to disperse their sit-ins.” This further suggests the challenges the court possesses in carrying out a completely transparent trial when evidence is not consistently concrete.
Another important element in deciphering the fairness of the trial is by evaluating the detention of President Morsi. Muslim Brotherhood supporters have commented that the detention was an outright kidnapping. President Morsi was flown to a secret military location to be detained. During President Morsi’s detention, he was not allowed any access to his attorneys and intensely interrogated. Over this course, he has been noted to only make two phone calls to his family and receive two foreign delegations. Even while President Morsi was detained, the death toll did not see an end; on August 14th, over 1,000 Egyptians were killed by security forces.
The highly polarized nation has a huge obstacle to overcome in order to justly prosecute President Morsi and the other fourteen defendants. Did President Morsi’s treatment during the detention adhere to universal human rights standards? Is the trial run by leaders of the coup fair to President Morsi, the other defendants, and Morsi-supporters? The objective answers to these questions are imperative to solving this case with full transparency. Unfortunately, the challenge of meeting that request is extremely perplexing and almost entirely insurmountable.
This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.