News / Middle East

Egypt's Mufti Rejects Brotherhood Leader Death Verdict

FILE - Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, second right, waits in line outside a polling place in Beni Suef, Egypt, to vote on a constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi.
FILE - Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, second right, waits in line outside a polling place in Beni Suef, Egypt, to vote on a constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi.
Reuters

Egypt's top religious authority has rejected a death sentence proposed for the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and 13 associates for murder and violence, but was asked by a court on Thursday to reconsider.

Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's general guide, and the other defendants were sentenced on June 19, but Egyptian law requires any capital sentence to be referred to Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, Egypt's highest Islamic legal official, for an opinion before any execution can take place.

The Mufti's reports are not normally made public, but one of the three judges in the case said the Mufti had stated that “the investigations and evidence were not enough to carry out the death sentence”.

In a move unprecedented in the history of Egyptian law, the court asked the Mufti to reconsider and adjourned the hearing, in which it was due to either uphold or strike down the original sentence, until Aug. 30.

“The Mufti did not give a religious opinion but interfered in the court's domain by evaluating the evidence of the case,” the judge said.

While many Egyptians have welcomed the army's toppling of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi just over a year ago, there is growing unease at the scale and severity of a crackdown on his now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Several thousand Brotherhood leaders and members have been arrested, many on terrorism charges, since Morsi's overthrow.

Hurried verdicts

Proposed death sentences against more than a thousand of these have triggered outrage among Western governments and human rights groups, who have condemned the hurried way in which the courts have reached such serious verdicts. No execution has yet been carried out, and hundreds are awaiting the Mufti's opinion.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who as army chief overthrew Morsi, said in the run-up to his election in May that the Brotherhood - Egypt's oldest and best organized political group - was finished and would cease to exist under his rule.

Among the defendants in the Cairo case are senior Brotherhood members Mohamed El-Beltagi and Essam El-Erian, as well as former members of the Morsi government. Six of the accused are on the run.

The defendants are accused of killing nine people and incitement to kill that led to 21 other deaths in clashes that took place near the Istiqama Mosque on the outskirts of Cairo in July 2013, after Morsi was ousted.

Judge Mohamed Nagi Shehata, who is leading the proceedings, also presided over the controversial trial that saw three Al Jazeera journalists jailed for seven to 10 years. But one of his assisting judges, Ihab al-Manufi, had already refused to sign the original death sentence issued in June, signaling that, even within the judiciary, there is disquiet over the trials.

Ibrahim Negm, a senior adviser to the Grand Mufti, said that Islamic law required the religious authorities to review all the evidence in a case and that, if asked to examine the case again, they would again look at all the evidence.

“Religious authorities are always encouraged to abide by the well-established principle that even slight doubts may give reason to cancel the stipulated penalties,” he said in emailed comments.

Badie and 182 other Brotherhood supporters have already had their death sentences in a separate case confirmed after the Mufti's report. They have the right to appeal.   

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs