The Alexandria Criminal Court acquitted, Saturday, 100 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members accused of violence in clashes in the city’s Sidi Bishr area in 2013, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported.
The acquittal is a rare case in an ongoing crackdown on members of the movement. The accused faced a number of charges, including joining an armed group, aiming to spread chaos and incitement to hatred of the army and police, and participation and incitement to violence.
Amongst the accused are prominent Brotherhood figures including: Mostafa Gomaa, son of a former Deputy Supreme Guide; lawyer Hosni Daweider, chairman of the freedoms committee of Alexandria’s Bar Association; Dr Ali Hamid, named as the secretary general of the Brotherhood in Alexandria; and Marai Saber, named as a leading member, Al-Ahram reported. The website of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) also reported the news.
Whilst the FJP’s website suggested that the case relates to events in the days after the July 2013 regime change, Al-Ahram reported that the case was related to events at the end of the year. It appears that the case in fact relates to clashes in the vicinity of the residence of Salafi Call vice president Dr Yasser Bohami during the last week of December 2013. The clashes took place between Muslim Brotherhood supporters, opposing citizens, and security forces.
During the clashes, Brotherhood members attempted to protest, but were challenged and security forces attempted to disperse the gatherings.
The Muslim Brotherhood movement has faced an ongoing crackdown in Egypt following the regime change that ousted former president Mohamed Morsi. At least 600 Muslim Brotherhood members were killed following the Morsi’s ouster, and since that the time the formerly governing movement has been outlawed and ruled a terrorist organisation. Their members have faced mass trials in a judicial system that human rights groups have criticised as ‘political’, as well as roundly accused of undertaking terrorist activities by politicians and media.
In September 2013, after a Cairo court initially banned the Brotherhood’s activities a panel was established to confiscate the assets and property of Brotherhood-linked organisations.
The Ministry of Social Solidarity announced earlier in July that since the 2013 regime some 434 organisations with links to the Brotherhood movement have been shuttered. Many of the shuttered NGOs provided support for the needy which has raised questions about whether alternative provisions will be provided.
However, despite the ongoing targeting of the movement, earlier in July a Cairo military court also acquitted members of the Brotherhood from their charges. Some 23 “Morsi supporters” had their charges of illegal protesting, rioting, assaulting security personnel and blocking traffic dropped.
Under the 2013 protest law, demonstrators who have not obtained prior approval from the Ministry of Interior can face jail terms and fines.