The judiciary in Egypt has been subjected to intensive political intervention by previous military regimes, but recent interventions over the past eight years, particularly after the coup d’etat on July 3, 2013, have taken more blatant forms than ever before. Added to this, some judges voluntarily offered to provide support to the regime through participating in judicial circles formed by the Executive specifically for abusing and cracking down on political opponents, in the so-called “judicial volunteering in the service of power”. In fact, this phenomenon is new to the military regimes in Egypt, which used to rely on sending opponents for trial before military courts in anticipation of likely acquittal by civil courts due to the farcical charges fabricated against them.
It may be useful in this context to recall the most ridiculous and farcical charges that have been directed against Egyptian opponents after the July 3 military coup (2013), including both prominent political figures and ordinary citizens, as follows:
First: Farcical charges against prominent political figures
1- Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was accused of “espionage for foreign parties”. This charge was directed against Morsi after he had refused to surrender to warnings of Egyptian army commanders (and attempts to convince him of stepping down). What is interesting about this is that charges directed against Morsi came a month and a half after he had been abducted and disappeared in an unknown place. However, President Morsi later appeared after repeated international demands and was transferred to Borg el-Arab prison in Alexandria; and this time he faced a list of farcical charges, most notably espionage for a number of foreign countries, including Qatar and Turkey, and communicating with some Islamic resistance movements such as Hamas (Sunni Muslim), and Hezbollah (Shiite Muslim). The Al-Sisi authorities also accused Morsi of breaking into Wadi El Natron Prison and releasing prisoners during the January Revolution (2011). However, Dr. Morsi had in fact been detained in Wadi El Natron Prison since the early days of the Revolution. Ironically, among other farcical charges that Morsi faced were allegations of looting the prison’s cattle and poultry! In fact, accusing an elected head of state of such charges reflects the mentality of post-coup military rulers in Egypt; thus it is not strange that regime opponents of politicians and ordinary citizens have been subjected to similar farcical charges.
2- Dr. Mohamed Mahsoub, Law Professor at Menoufia University, member of the Higher Committee of Al-Wasat (Center) Party, and former Minister of Legal Affairs, also faced a series of farcical charges, including fraud and formation of a gang for setting apartments on fire in Nasr City, Cairo.
3- Dr. Abdullah Shehata, professor of Economics and Finance at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, and head of the Financial Committee of the Freedom and Justice Party, was accused of leading a gang specialized in the manufacture of explosives, relying on a video filmed by the police during his detention and under torture.
4- Dr. Saad al-Katatni, former Speaker of the Egyptian People’s Assembly, was arrested a few hours after he declined an official invitation (from Sisi) to attend the military coup declaration along with other coup leaders. Later, he faced charges of killings that occurred on the same day of his detention in Bin Al-Sarayat area, Giza on July 2, 2013 (at night) during a clash between thugs backed by the police and anti-coup demonstrators.
5- Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leading figure, Mohamed Ali Bishr, who was arrested in November 2014, faced a charge of espionage for Norway!
6- Counsellor Mahmoud al-Khudairi, an independent judge, was arrested on charges of torturing a lawyer in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square!
7- Dr. Mohamed El-Beltagy, a Jan. Revolution icon and leading MB figure – whose daughter was killed by police and army forces during the Rabaa dispersal massacre together with hundreds, if not thousands, of peaceful protesters – was accused of torturing a lawyer in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square! Dr. El-Beltagy was also accused of shouting loudly during protests with chants that may incite sedition.
Second: Farcical charges against anti-coup ordinary citizens
– A high school student in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate was arrested for possessing a ruler with a four-finger Rabaa sign drawn on it.
– A doctor from Dakahlia governorate was detained for possessing a pin bearing the Rabaa sign.
– An employee at the Assiut University Hospital was arrested on charges of waving with four fingers (Rabaa sign) to a military plane in the air.
– Five students were arrested in a mall in the 6th of October City on charges of waving with Rabaa sign.
– Five young girls were arrested in Ismailia on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Corban) in October 2013 on charges of possessing yellow balloons with the four-finger Rabaa sign drawn on them.
– Arrest of a citizen wearing a T-shirt with the Rabaa sign drawn on it while trying to cross the Tahrir square.
– Three young men were arrested in Mansoura on charges of raising the Rabaa sign while celebrating the release of one of their colleagues from prison.
– Father of a school student was arrested on charges of inciting his son to carry a ruler and a notebook with the Rabaa sign drawn on them.
– A citizen was arrested on charges of raising a sign showing words to the effect that “I am pleased for this stability” in the Sayeda Zeinab square (interpreted as a sign of mockery).
– A citizen, owner of a pharmacy, in Dakahlia governorate was arrested on charges of collecting subsidized infant powder milk to disrupt the market and cause a crisis.
– A student was arrested while entering Cairo University for possessing George Orwell’s 1984 novel about “dictatorship of military regimes”.
– Another student, Hassan Farid, was arrested on charges of possession of a robot he had been previously honored for by the Air Defense Technical Research Center.
– Four students at the Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University, were arrested on charges of possessing an armed robot.
– Another citizen was arrested on charges of possessing a “laptop” containing songs allegedly offensive to the coup leader.
– Three young men belonging to Masr al-Qawiya (Powerful Egypt) Party were arrested from the street while distributing leaflets calling on citizens not to vote “Yes” for the 2014 Constitution.
– Another citizen was arrested in Damietta governorate on charges of attempting to obstruct the referendum on the 2014 constitution for waving with the four-finger Rabaa sign while driving his car near one of the electoral commissions.
– Two young men were arrested on charges of causing psychological damage to Tawfiq Okasha, owner of the Al-Faraeen TV Channel and a pro-regime TV presenter, on the background of raising their hands with the four-finger Rabaa sign from his behind while taking a personal photo with him in Alexandria.
– A journalist was arrested while covering demonstrations on charges of possessing a camera, covering opposition demonstrations, and possessing anti-gas masks.
– Two young artists were arrested on charges of filming an advertisement allegedly carrying sexual hints against the security services.
– Other artists were arrested for videotaping alleged mockery of the Egyptian and Saudi regimes against the backdrop of Sisi’s waver of the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
– A tuk-tuk driver was chased by the police for conducting an interview with a TV presenter criticizing living conditions and high prices.
– Dozens of young people were arrested for participating in demonstrations against the coup regime’s waiver of the two Egyptian islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
– A group of citizens were arrested from metro stations because of protesting on raising the Metro ticket price at rates ranging between 100 to 300%.
However, we do not know whether these farcical charges are directed by the regime against citizens out of confusion or within the framework of an intended plan to spread terror, fear and panic in the hearts of the Egyptian people.
*Read the complete study in Arabic here