Egypt Jails More than 160 Brotherhood Members
Egypt is continuing its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and on Sunday a local court jailed more than 160 supporters of the Islamist movement to up to 15 years in prison.
According to a Reuters report, the defendants chanted "Down with military rule" as Judge Hassan Fareed handed down 10-year jail terms to 126 Brotherhood supporters accused of violence and membership of a terrorist group in one of the cases.
A further 37 people received 15-year sentences in a second case related to an alleged attempt to blow up a Cairo metro station.
The security forces have detained thousands of Brotherhood supporters since the military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last July following mass protests against his rule.
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced in mass trials since Morsi was ousted, including 79 who last week were given jail terms of between five and 10 years over their involvement in deadly clashes.
Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who was among 683 people sentenced to death last month, made a rare address in court, rejecting the accusations leveled against his group.
"We have never responded to any attack against us with violence," said Badie, according to Reuters, addressing the judge in footage uploaded to YouTube. The judiciary was being used in a political conflict the likes of which Egypt had never seen before, he claimed.
The government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group after an upsurge in attacks on the police and army following Morsi’s removal from power.
Most of the attacks have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, but Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
Last week, Egypt charged 200 suspected members of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks, killing 40 policemen and 15 civilians and conspiring with Hamas.
Among the attacks claimed by the group is the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai.
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.