Egypt jails 120 Morsi backers for unlicensed protests

By Sayed Fathi, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 120 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to three years in jail each for staging unlicensed protests

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 120 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to three years in jail each for staging unlicensed protests

CAIRO – An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 120 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to three years in jail each for staging unlicensed protests, judicial sources said.

The court also acquitted six others, the sources added.

The defendants had been charged with staging unauthorized protests, rioting and disrupting public peace during pro-Morsi protests held on October 6 of last year, which marked the 40th anniversary of Egypt's 1973 military victory over Israel.

Violence on that day, which is widely seen as a day of national pride for the Egyptian army, left 54 dead and 271 injured.

For the last eight months, Egypt's military-backed authorities have waged a sustained crackdown on Morsi's supporters and members of his Muslim Brotherhood, which the government last December officially labeled a "terrorist organization."

Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader who became Egypt's first freely elected leader in 2012, was ousted by the army last July following mass demonstrations against his presidency.

The Brotherhood and its allies see Morsi's ouster an unconstitutional military coup and refuse to recognize the army-installed government's legitimacy.

In November, Egypt's interim government adopted a new protest law that makes it necessary for organizers to submit a written request to the Interior Ministry three days prior to staging a protest.

The legislation gives the ministry the right to prohibit the planned event if it is deemed a "threat to security or public safety" or if security conditions are deemed "inappropriate."

Violators can be either fined or imprisoned – penalties that have provoked outrage on the part of many Egyptian politicians and activists who say the law curbs freedoms and gives police free rein to muzzle popular expressions of dissent.

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