The Muslim Brotherhood called for a “million-man march” on Tuesday under the banner of “The World Salutes the Steadfast President” in protest of toppled President Mohamed Morsi’s first appearance in court a day earlier.
“The Alliance…deeply appreciates the diligence and determination of the millions of people who turned out Monday morning as the false trial of the elected President began…and to announce a popular trial of the 3 July coup commanders in all the streets and squares of Egypt,” read a statement from the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-language website.
On Monday, around 300 Morsi supporters demonstrated outside the Police Academy in New Cairo where the trial was held. Several thousand others protested outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in Maadi, while sporadic clashes broke out between demonstrators and police in Alexandria and in downtown Cairo outside the High Court.
Tamara Alrifai of Human Rights Watch attended Morsi’s trial, and said she observed relatively fair proceedings, but cautioned that the trial must be put in the context of the larger series of events.
“What happened inside the courtroom seemed relatively decent in that the lawyers gave the presiding judge their requests, namely to be granted more time and have access to the court documents and to be able to meet Morsi and all the defendants in private,” she told Daily News Egypt, “ The judge granted that. In terms of what happened yesterday, things were relatively decent.” She added that “if this is the only trial that’s going to take place to account for the death of protestors, then this is selective justice.”
Alrifai also said that that it is a positive sign that Morsi is being moved from an undisclosed location to Borg Al-Arab prison in Alexandria, but “the test will be whether his lawyers and his family will have regular access to him while he’s in detention.”
Tunisia’s largest political group, the moderate-Islamist Ennahdha Party, issued a statement portraying their “unwavering support” to Morsi, and calling for his release.
“What we are witnessing demonstrates complete disregard for the will of millions of Egyptians with a trial of the elected president and officials,” read the statement. “[Ennahdha] calls for an end to this unjust trial, the release of the detained president and a return to the democratic process which fulfils the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”
Turkey’s foreign ministry, too, issued a statement calling for Morsi release, reported Turkish English-language newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
“We believe that it would contribute to the creation of dialogue and consensus in the country when all political detainees are released, including elected President Morsi, in accordance with our principled approach,” read the statement.
“Turkey has always followed the principle of legitimacy and supported the legitimate governments that reflect the people’s will. In this respect, Turkey believes that steps should be taken with regard to democratic principles and constitutional legitimacy, which are necessary to sustain the political process on which all segments had consensus, in order to secure the internal peace of our brother and friend Egypt, as well as for regional stability.”
Jordan’s largest opposition party, the Brotherhood-backed Islamic Action Front, called for the immediate release of Morsi and all other Muslim Brotherhood members “who have been thrown in prison by the coup.”
“The trial of the Arab Republic of Egypt’s first legitimately elected civilian president in its long history is not based on the most basic standards of justice, and the charges against him lack any credibility,” said the Islamic Action Front.
Domestically, the Misr Al-Qaiwia Party’s Alexandria branch issued a statement that demanded that Morsi’s Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim and his Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi be tried along Morsi for violations of human rights. The party also demanded the Supreme Council of Armed Forces be tried for human rights violations during their year and a half rule from February 2011 to June 2012.
The statement went on to say that while in principle they believe Morsi should face the court, he is unable to receive a fair trial in the current political climate.
“If this trial is to be reflective of the rule of law and justice desired, it must be conducted in an atmosphere that is politically and legally sound. This is not available yet when the president [Morsi] is isolated, kidnapped in a place that no one knows except his opponents.”
Morsi, along with 14 other defendants, is being tried for inciting the killing of protestors outside the Presidential Palace in December 2012. If convicted, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president could face the death penalty. After a short hearing on Monday, the presiding judge adjourned the case until 8 January at the behest of the defendants’ legal counsel.
At the trial, Morsi would not recognise the court. He refused to wear the white uniform typical of defendants, and said, “I am the legitimate President.” The defendants’ lawyers then chanted: “The people salute the president’s steadfastness!”
When the judge called the rest of the defendants’ names, they replied with chants of “down with the coup,” “Rabaa lives” and “down with military rule.”