Egyptian court's suspension of jail terms for activists viewed as intimidation tactic
CAIRO — It was a seemingly lenient sentence for charges of burning a political party headquarters a year ago — one year in jail, suspended for the next three years — but upon hearing the verdict on Sunday, supporters of the defendants were long-faced and despondent. They said they interpreted the three-year suspension as an effort to prevent the activists from protesting the government anytime soon.
“If they did what they claim, why a suspended sentence?” said Leila Soueif, the mother of two of the defendants. “Yes, it is suspended, but this is a baseless case. There is no justice in our system anymore.”
The primary defendants in the case, Alaa Abd el-Fattah and his sister Mona, had been leading figures in the 2011 protest movement that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. At one point, the government had even dropped the charges against them. But after the military retook control of the country on July 3, the charges were reinstated in what activists here say has been a concerted effort to eliminate political dissent.
The government crackdown has fallen hardest on the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leadership, including former President Mohamed Morsy, is in jail and facing charges. The organization is banned, and journalists risk arrest for reporting on the Brotherhood's activities. Three Al-Jazeera English journalists who were arrested in late December on charges that they were leading a terrorist cell were questioned again on Sunday.
But the crackdown has hit the so-called revolutionaries who were instrumental in toppling Mubarak and who had backed the military putsch against Morsy last summer. Now even those who were never Brotherhood supporters risk imprisonment on charges aimed to ensure the status quo. Many who remain free fear that they will be rounded up for talking about politics.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S., Arab allies hit IS strongholds in Syria, Iraq
- U.S.: Ebola cases could hit 1.4 million by mid-January
- Israel military shoots down Syrian aircraft
- Muti backs out of Rome theater commitment
- At least 40 Iraqi soldiers killed in Islamic State strike; dozens captured
- Ukraine to pull artillery in east as truce between government and rebels holds up
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- Egyptian President al-Sisi feels vindicated in crackdown as Islamic extremists rise
- Ebola infections likely to shoot up in Sierra Leone, Liberia
- Study: Ocean algae can evolve fast to adjust to climate change
- Al-Qaida’s South Asia wing claims 1st big strike