| Coup: Bogus trial for Egypt’s Morsi begins amid fears of violence!

Trial for Egypt’s Morsi begins amid fears of violence ~ Al Jazeera America.

gypt’s deposed President Mohamed Morsi is standing trial Monday to face charges of inciting violence and murder in connection with clashes in front of the presidential palace in the capital Cairo in December.

The trial, which is not being aired live on state TV, is being held at a heavily-fortified police academy on the outskirts of Cairo Monday morning. It is the same venue used during the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in a 2011 uprising and is currently under house arrest.

Morsi, 62, is facing charges for the deaths of three out of 11 protesters who were killed in the violent clashes during demonstrations against his constitutional declaration, which gave him vast powers that many believed were steps towards authoritarianism.

“The other seven, who were members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, were excluded by the prosecutor from the case,” Mohamed al-Damati, a member of the defense team, told Al Jazeera. “This will also be brought up in the trial.”

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Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has been under house arrest in an undisclosed location since being ousted in a July 3 military coup.UesleiMarcelino/Reuters

If convicted, Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, could face the death penalty.

Morsi, who has been under arrest in an undisclosed location since the July 3 military coup, has rejected the trial and still considers himself to be the legitimate president of Egypt.

Al-Damati said that Morsi did not answer questions during the interrogations, considering them “invalid.”

He added that the defense team, which has no access to the ousted president, received documents of the court case only on Saturday night, although a request for the papers had been filed more than 20 days ago.

Fourteen other defendants will be tried alongside Morsi on Monday, including Essam el-Erian, Vice President of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, and Mohamed el-Beltagi, a former member of parliament.

The months since the coup have seen a crackdown on senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters.

Security precautions

A coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood called for a mass protest Monday, triggering the military-backed government to put extensive security arrangements in place.

The Interior Ministry has said that about 20,000 security personnel will be deployed to secure the trial and other state institutions.

The ministry said in a statement that it would take all “security measures to prevent possible attacks in accordance with the law.”

Egypt witnessed one of its worst bouts of violence in decades on Aug. 14, when security forces violently cleared protest camps set up by Morsi supporters, sparking days of unrest that left more than 1,000 dead.

Since then, violent incidents have multiplied: a suicide car bomber tried to assassinate Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim in September, and dozens of members of the security forces have been killed in a string of drive-by shootings, explosions and car bombs. Churches have been torched, and in an attack in Cairo last month, five Christian Copts and one Muslim were killed in a drive-by shooting at a church.

Both government officials and Morsi’s supporters forecast bleak scenarios for Monday, with each side accusing the other of plotting killings, including that of Morsi himself.

A senior Interior Ministry official told The Associated Press his ministry had received information that Brotherhood supporters will engage in acts of violence, “including assassinations of top religious figures, suicide attacks and targeting military facilities.”

“We expect a kind of hysteria and rioting when Morsi shows up in court,” he added.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press 

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| The current conflict is between democracy, governance, and the military coup; not the Brotherhood and the opposition!

The current conflict is between democracy, governance, and the military coup; not the Brotherhood and the opposition ~  Tariq Al-Bishri, MEMO.

Tarek Al Bishry is an Egyptian thinker and Judge, considered one of Egypt’s top legal minds. He was born in Cairo on November 1, 1933. His grandfather, Salim Al Bishry, was shaykh of Al Azhar from 1900–1904 and 1909-1916. His father, ‘Abd al-Fattah Al Bishry, was president of the Egyptian Court of Appeal until his death in 1951.

On February 15, 2011 Al Bishry was appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to head the committee set up to propose constitutional changes in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.

Al Bishry was a secular leftist but became a prominent “moderate Islamic” political thinker, which gained him respect as a bridge between the movements.

Tariq Al-Bishri
‘The 2012 constitution, which was disabled by the July 3 2013 coup, gives the ministry supported by the parliament almost full authority in policy-making and the management of the country’s affairs, far more than the president’s powers’

The matter at hand during this difficult time, which began with the events on June 30 2013 and culminated in a military coup on July 3 2013, is not the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and whether or not they will remain in power. It is in fact a matter of the democratic constitutional system which was a result of the January 25 revolution, and whether Egypt will preserve this system or if it will nip it in the bud, replacing it with the military coup that put Egypt under a new dictatorship that will last for decades to come.

The observation of events since July 3 indicates that we are facing an action carried out by the Armed Forces leadership and announced by the Commander in Chief and the Minister of Defence after a political meeting with some religious and political figures they had chosen to support. They announced the disablement of the constitution agreed upon by the Egyptian people and received 63.6 per cent of votes in a free and fair polling. Moreover, an interim president of Egypt was appointed, while the constitutional president elected in the fair and free presidential elections carried out by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is isolated. The coup leader gave the appointed interim president the authority to issue constitutional declarations, and this is in effect for an indefinite period of time by a ministry that has not yet been formed and has decided to arrest the president. We have become a country without a constitution or recognised ruling system.

The question at hand is; what was the military coup if it wasn’t actually a military coup?

It has been said that the matter was about overthrowing the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, but the parliamentary elections, in accordance with the new constitution, were on the verge of being held. They were scheduled to take place at the beginning of June if it weren’t for the opposition’s call to invalidate the decision for elections, which was accepted by the court on grounds of formalities. However, they seemed legal except for some details concerning the electoral law, and even these obstacles were on the verge of being resolved and becoming part of the law, and the elections were close to being held. Moreover, it cannot be said that the Brotherhood would’ve taken control of the state’s agencies and institutions to ensure the results of the elections would be in their favour, because the facts of the coup that recently occurred prove that the state’s administration and security devices were not under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood no matter how hard they tried.

The significance of a non-Brotherhood majority in the upcoming parliament, which is expected due to the decreased popularity of the Brotherhood after coming into office (at the height of their popularity in late 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood had less than 40 per cent of the parliamentary seats and the president, a Brotherhood candidate, received 25 per cent of the votes in the first round and only 51.7 per cent of the votes in the second round against him and Ahmed Shafik) is that their decreased popularity in the upcoming elections would mean that the ministry would be formed without them, or that they would not have the majority vote.

The 2012 constitution, which was disabled by the July 3 2013 coup, gives the ministry supported by the parliament almost full authority in policy-making and the management of the country’s affairs, far more than the president’s powers. Moreover, this constitution dictates that the ministry overrules the president regarding the issuance of resolutions.

It was all on the verge of being put into effect in accordance with the constitution and sound constitutional procedures, but it was not. Moreover, the leaders of the armed forces moved to declare the suspension of the constitution and the country is, once again, in a state of governance that is neither constitutional nor democratic.

It may be said that the action of the Armed Forces leadership was a result of the people’s movement that took place on June 30, and that the movement was similar to that of the January 25 2011 revolution. This comparison is corrupt and untrue because the movement of the people on January 25 was a unified political action agreed upon by the people with one demand; the removal of Hosni Mubarak and his supporters from government and the establishment of a democratic system, while restoring the people’s liberties. Hence, with this unified demand, the Armed Forces had the right to take action in response to the people’s undisputed consensus.

As for now, the movement on June 30 2013 was an action divided among the masses gathered in Tahrir Square who opposed the government of the elected president, and the masses gathered in Rabaa Adaweya Square who supported the current elected president and his ministry and demanded he remain in power. This divided action between two different groups with opposing goals and demands can only be resolved through elections in accordance with the constitution. There is no justification for the Armed Forces to intervene and resolve the issue in favour of one side or the other, as this would be considered a partisan act in which it would support one political party over the other, and the Armed Forces is prohibited from engaging in politics. Such action would be far from the people’s interests and the preservation of national security, rather being biased towards one party over another and towards internal policies over others, which is be considered a coup.

At the moment we are not facing a battle between the Muslim Brotherhood in power and their opponents, because this battle could have been resolved in accordance with the 2012 constitution through parliamentary elections and what it will result in, including a ministerial formation that reflects the people’s true support for each of the feuding groups.

We are, however, facing a battle concerning democracy and the constitution, which relapsed due to the coup carried out by the Armed Forces leadership. This leadership took advantage of the popular opposition against the Muslim Brotherhood, and drove them to support it in the battle of killing the spirit of the January 25 2011 revolution, along with constitutional democracy, and to take us back to the brutal totalitarian regime.

I believe that the armed forces themselves, its men and people, are innocent of this, because they took to the streets based on orders from their leaders and took control of the country’s facilities, not to carry out a military coup, but to secure the facilities and the group of Egyptians who were expected to take action on June 30 in order for them not to be infiltrated with vandals. However, their leader took advantage of this action and gave it other political implications related to demolishment of the constitutional democratic system the Egyptians built. However, the leaders of the coup did not realize that by disabling the constitution and dismissing the President they brought down the ministry, whose leader would possess the legitimate authority of making orders.

The people must realize that their present quest does not concern the restoration of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, but the defence of the constitution and the democratic system. Moreover, they must make a political choice, not between supporting the Muslim Brotherhood or their opponents, but between defending democracy and supporting a dictatorship.

And to those who are now seeking to bridge the gap between the points of view, I have been asked by many to address this matter and contribute to it, and I say we are facing a dilemma, which is the fact that it is almost impossible for those who resort to a military coup to abandon it because their personal fate has become linked to the fate of the coup. Furthermore, to those who want to give up some constitutional democratic matter to avoid a physical coup, I say that this will create a dangerous constitutional precedent that will always threaten the democratic system, and creates the potential for forces to take action at any time to impose any of its demands in light of a political crisis, which was experienced by other countries, such as Turkey, Latin America, and Africa for decades.

May God save Egypt from this fate.

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The author is an Egyptian constitutional expert. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared in Shorouk Newspaper on 10 July, 2013

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| Democracy Defense Front Statement on the Legal Status of the Coup in Egypt!

Democracy Defense Front Statement on the Legal Status of the Coup in Egypt ~ Ikhwan Web, The Muslim Brotherhood.

On July 3, 2013 Egypt’s army commander, the Defense Minister, mounted a full-fledged coup d’état against the legitimate elected President of Egypt and suspended the Constitution endorsed by popular referendum on December 25, 2012.

We declare illegal, null and void all decrees issued and actions taken by the Defense Minister, and say as follows:

(1) The Elected President of Egypt, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, did not resign nor transfer any of his powers to any person or entity, including the Defense Minister, who was appointed by the President himself.

(2) Announcing the military coup, the Defense Minister also suspended the Egyptian Constitution approved by the Egyptian people in 2012 in a most credible, fair and free referendum, although this Constitution itself is the legal basis and source of the Defense Minister’s legitimacy, and does not allow any authority to suspend, repeal or abolish any of its provisions.

(3) The Defense Minister appointed Judge Adli Mansour, Chief Justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, as the country’s president, in an unprecedented move where a minister “appoints” a President of State.

(4) All Constitutional Court judges, including judge Adli Mansour, were appointed by the President of the Republic according to a Mubarak-era law. Hence, the appointment of Judge Adli Mansour as President by the Defense Minister is a manifest violation of the Constitution and legal provisions. The decree was issued by someone who had no authority to do so, to appoint as President someone who had no right to take that position.

(5) The Defense Minister’s decree to suspend the Constitution is null and void. Therefore the constitutional situation remains as it were. The elected legitimate president remains unchanged and those who mounted the coup remain outside the law and the Constitution.

Finally, the Democracy Defense Front calls on all states as well as international and regional organizations and all the free world not to deal with the illegitimate coup government, and to stand firm with the Egyptian people in their quest to regain their democracy and their Constitution.

God bless Egypt – free and civilian democracy

Democracy Defense Front

July, 5th 2013

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| Sen. Leahy: US aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree.”

Key U.S. Democratic senator sees review of Egypt aidReuters,

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said on Wednesday that his panel would review the $1.5 billion in annual assistance the country sends to Egypt in the wake of the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

“Egypt’s military leaders say they have no intent or desire to govern, and I hope they make good on their promise,” Leahy said in a statement. “In the meantime, our law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree.”

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jackie Frank)

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| Egypt’s army gives parties 48 hours to resolve crisis!

Egypt’s army gives parties 48 hours to resolve crisis ~ BBC.

Egyptian protesters shout slogans and wave national flags during a demonstration against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Tahrir Square, Cairo, 1 July 2013
Protesters are gathering in Cairo for a second consecutive day calling on Mr Morsi to resign.

Egypt’s army has given the country’s rival parties 48 hours to resolve a deadly political crisis.

It would offer its own “road map” for peace if Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents failed to to heed “the will of the people”, it said.

The statement came after anti-government protesters stormed the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Eight people died as the building was ransacked, a day after millions rallied nationwide urging Mr Morsi to quit.

The head of the armed forces described the protests as an “unprecedented” expression of the popular will.

But in his pre-recorded statement broadcast on state television on Monday evening, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army would not get involved in politics or government.

Protesters outside the presidential palace cheered and honked car horns at news of Gen Sisi’s statement, believing it spelt the end for Mr Morsi, says the BBC’s Khaled Ezzelarab in Cairo.

Earlier, the opposition movement behind the protests, Tamarod (Rebel), gave Mr Morsi until Tuesday afternoon to step down and call fresh presidential elections, or else face a campaign of civil disobedience.

On Saturday, Tamarod said it had collected more than 22 million signatures – more than a quarter of Egypt’s population – in support.

But Mr Morsi was defiant in an interview published on Sunday, rejecting calls for early presidential elections.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad Haddad told the BBC the roadmap referred to by Gen Sisi did not necessarily increase pressure on the president to call early presidential elections.

Rather, he said, the pressure was on Egypt’s constitutional court to swiftly issue a new parliamentary law and to call for parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, the al-Watan website said the ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs had resigned in an act of “solidarity with the people’s demand to overthrow the regime”.

More on This Story

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| Constitutional Confrontation in Egypt!

Constitutional Confrontation in Egypt ~ Paul R. Pillar, The National Interest.

Egyptian President Morsi is pressing for a quick vote on a new constitution which has drawn criticism from both secularists and Islamists. But the imperfect plan has the benefit of establishing some governing rules for the tumultuous country and can be changed later, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The stage in Egypt seems set for yet another surge of political tension and high drama over the coming fortnight, as President Mohamed Morsi has designated Dec. 15 as the date for a referendum on the just-written constitution.

The outcome of the referendum will no doubt be widely seen as a test of strength between Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and its secular opponents, whether it ought to be seen that way or not.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2012. (U.S. government photo)

The document will be regarded as a Brotherhood product, given a boycott of the constitution-writing assembly by liberal secularists and Christians, and given also Morsi’s claiming of special powers to prevent the judiciary from negating the work of the Brotherhood-dominated constituent assembly.

The rush with which the drafting of the constitution was completed and with which it will now be put to a vote conveys to many Egyptians an impression of railroading something through. Morsi’s recent Mubarak-like pronouncements about threats from “conspiracies” have added to the forbidding atmosphere.

The hastily written draft constitution has something for everyone to dislike, but democracy in Egypt will not live or die based on the result of the referendum. Nor will the balance of power between Islamists and secularists depend on it. Morsi’s opponents might even be well advised to drop resistance to letting the new constitution come into effect.

Doing so would in a sense be calling his bluff. The powers he claimed for himself at the expense of the judiciary would expire, and the president under the constitution will be a less powerful president than Morsi claims to be now. And as Morsi himself noted, the constitution can be amended.

Secularists might be comforted by noting that the Salafists are unhappy enough with the constitution that they have announced they will boycott the referendum. The Salafists complain that the document vests sovereignty in the people rather than in God.

Egypt needs some kind of constitutional structure if subsequent debates about the direction of the country are to be conducted within an orderly framework rather than being part of a game where all the rules are made up as the game proceeds. Any representative political system needs to start with someone making up rules and acting without having previously recognized authority, but it cannot stay that way indefinitely.

Of course Morsi cannot point to any widely accepted authority to claim the power to issue the decree he did the other day, but the other actors in the Egyptian political game don’t have much more of a legal basis for doing what they are doing either.

Any U.S. officials or other Americans who offer advice to the Egyptians during this politically interesting time might allude to the experience of the United States in establishing a constitutional order during its early days. The writers of the U.S. Constitution certainly exceeded their authority when instead of amending the Articles of Confederation they created an entirely new constitution and specified that it would come into effect with less than unanimous approval by the states.

The participation in writing the constitution was incomplete. Rhode Island did not attend, the New Hampshire delegates arrived late, most of the New York delegates left early, and several who stayed for the whole meeting refused to sign the product. Significant opposition to the document persisted, and demands for amending it were strong enough for the first ten amendments to be a task of the very first Congress.

The lesson is that the success of, and respect for, a constitution is a function of the political habits and attitudes toward it that develop over time. It does not depend on the legal basis on which it was initially written, and it does not depend on who was in power or who favored the constitution when it was first written.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies.

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| Egyptian prosecutor-general reassigned to Vatican after flunking “Camel Battle” case!

Egypt president removes prosecutor-general ~ AlJazeera.
 
Muhammad Morsi removes top prosecutor after Mubarak loyalists acquitted in “Camel Battle” case.

 

On February 2, 2011, pro-Mubarak forces riding camels and horses charged activists in Tahrir Square [GALLO/GETTY]
 

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi has removed the country’s prosecutor general a day after all 24 defendants in the Cairo “Camel Battle” case were acquitted, state television has reported.

Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, the country’s top prosecutor, was named as the country’s ambassador to the Vatican on Thursday.

The state broadcaster said the transfer had been made by presidential decree.

Mahmoud was considered to be a remnant of ousted president Hosni Mubarak‘s regime.

On February 2, 2011, pro-Mubarak forces riding camels and horses, charged into the crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The “Camel Battle” became a symbol of the revolution and Mubarak’s efforts to suppress it.

The ruling on Wednesday sparked anger across the country, and Mahmoud was blamed for presenting a weak case to the court.

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