The execution of Islamist protester Mahmoud Ramadan on Saturday was met with harsh criticism from Egypt’s strong yet oppressed Islamist entities.
The Ministry of Interior announced that Ramadan, who was charged with throwing a child off a rooftop in Alexandria during clashes in 2013, had been executed.
The incident is the first to have taken place since the military-led ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in June 2013.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Montaser said the new Interior Minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, started his first day at work with Ramadan’s execution. Montaser said Ramadan’s case was a “ridiculous case in the murderous judiciary, similar to those trials of Egyptians in Dinshaway”.
On June 1906, more than seven Egyptians were hanged after being accused of attacking a group of British officers in the village of Dinshaway. The incident was used by Egyptian nationalists to highlight the oppression of British colonialism against Egyptians.
In modern times, it was also used in the rhetoric of anti-government protesters to refer to mass death sentences against activists and Islamists.
“There is no difference between a murderer with a rifle and a murder on a court bench,” Montaser added, saying that “the death sentences are political”.
The spokesman for the now banned Muslim Brotherhood emphasised that “the message of the execution is refused, and will not be accepted by the revolutionaries”.
The Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms said it is considering Ramadan’s execution as “murder”, citing “legal flaws” in the verdict, “in addition to the torture he was subjected to”.
“Whoever is following the case will notice how fast the verdict was issued, and how his case was mixed with the political context,” the organisation said. It also argued that the execution had many “political messages in it”.
This ensures the interference of the current regime in the judiciary, the organisation said while accusing the Interior Ministry, the judiciary, and the media of “satisfying the public”, and only publishing evidence out of context.
In March 2014, Mahmoud and another man were sentenced to death, sentences which were then referred to Egypt’s Grand Mufti for approval. The Mufti is required to approve all death penalty verdicts before they can be carried out.
On 8 July 2013, police arrested Ramadan and another man, named Abdullah Al-Ahmady Abdelwahid, with the security forces claiming that Ramadan was a Jihadi extremist.
The arrests came after the two were featured as part a group of men throwing two individuals from a rooftop. Ramadan was shown beating one of the people trapped on the rooftop; however the video does not show him pushing anyone from the ledge. He also had a black flag bearing the Shahada (the Islamic proclamation of faith) protruding from his back pocket.
In May 2014, Ramadan was sentenced to death, pending the approval of the country’s Grand Mufti Shawqy Allam.
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) condemned the execution, arguing that the verdict was issued without sufficient evidence or legal defence.
“The court views fabricated evidence, and refused to look into evidence that denies the charges from the defendants,” the organisation said. It added that the court also did not examine the testimonies of families of victims killed by “thugs” in the streets of Alexandria, after Morsi’s ouster.
The organisation demanded the international community and world leaders pressure the Egyptian government to annul the death sentences. Similarly, the incident was condemned by Egypt’s Anti-Coup Alliance and Istiqlal Party.
Khalid Al-Sherif, the Salafi Front spokesman, said Ramadan’s execution is not the first “crime”, asserting that the judiciary, the media, and the police are the “hands of the state” which participated in the incident.
A number of Islamist activists expressed shock by the incident, and blamed the major Islamist entities, leaders, and platforms for their “passivity”.
Mohamed Galal, a leading figure in the Salafi Front, said many Islamist groups will only condemn Ramadan’s execution.
In the recent period, some youth members of the once large and powerful Islamist current, started to criticise the Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Alliance for “only calling for weekly protests and releasing statements”.
The criticism includes “the inefficiency of peaceful protests”.
“The the reply to Ramadan’s execution is an uprising and the [declaration] of Jihad,” Galal said.
In a recent development, militant movements such as the Popular Resistance in Giza and the Revolutionary Punishment vowed to avenge Ramadan’s death.