08 May 2007

Egyptian court rejects military trial for Muslim Brothers

An Egyptian court has found a presidential order calling for a group of Muslim Brethren to undergo trial in a military court to be invalid. The group has been charged with supporting terrorism, as well as membership in a banned organisation (BBC).

The court has displayed an impressively independent spirit, for which it must be commended. The Muslim Brotherhood is a fact of life in Egypt, and the government knows this as well as anyone. To selectively prosecute some people for belonging to the group, while 88 out of Egypt's 454 MPs are known Brethren, is sheer hypocricy. Furthermore, military courts ought to have no place in civilian life.

However, I don't think the courts can achieve much by themselves until the executive decides to liberalise the system. It would be appropriate for Egypt's ally, the United States, to put some pressure on it to do so, but, unfortunately, the US doesn't have many cards left to play because of the Iraq fiasco.

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