Maha Azzam: 'Egyptians reject Sisi verdict'

Maha Azzam: 'Egyptians reject Sisi verdict'
4 min read
16 June, 2015
Feature: Maha Azzam, the head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, says that the death sentence given to former president Mohamed Morsi will lead to the undoing of the regime.
Sisi's death sentence will strengthen resistance to the regime [Anadolu]
Maha Azzam is head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, a broad platform for Egyptians and organisations outside Egypt who believe in the principles of the 25 January revolution. It ranges from from Islamists to leftist groups and liberals who demand the return of civil society and democracy to Egypt.

What is the Egyptian Revolutionary Council's response to the death sentence of Mohamed Morsi?

We reject the legitimacy of the court itself and therefore we reject the verdict. We believe that the judiciary in Egypt has become highly politicised and the court where Morsi and others have been judged is for all intents and purposes a kangaroo court.

There was no due process and the judiciary acted like an arm of the military regime. Any verdicts coming out of the court are considered null and void and not seen as representing a case that was fair or just.

What is the general reaction to the court's decision by Egyptians?

I think across Egyptian society, as a whole, there is a growing sense of dismay at the increasing escalation by the military regime and greater polarisation in society.

The regime from day one has tried to instil fear, not just among political parties but also across Egyptian society.

Today's verdict is again saying to the Egyptian public that we are going to take extreme measures against any signs of opposition and you must remain silent or the cost is going to be very high.

It is going to create a backlash because the greater the clampdown the greater the anger we are going to see against the military regime. This is not just going to be from the Muslim Brotherhood - there will be more people who will be critical of the regime.

These kind of verdicts are opening the door to greater anger in society which will obviously backfire and create greater radicalisation.

Do you believe that the regime will carry out the death sentences of Morsi and the many other people on death row?

I think we must assume that this regime is capable of doing it. It may rescind some and carry out others but ultimately we have a very brutal regime that has committed many human rights violations over the past year. Therefore we have to assume that they may carry out executions of certain key figures.
     Sisi's strategy is to continue to instill fear among Egyptians and carry out as harsh measures as possible to ensure control.

We have to ensure that the international community and regional powers speak out against these verdicts.

How about the timing of the court's decision after Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's visit to Germany?

We know that the case was delayed because Sisi wanted to have as little embarrassment as possible when he goes on his tours to the capitals of the world.

I hope that this verdict will put some kind of international pressure on him but I think that his main goal is to ensure that he can control the situation inside the country and therefore he will go to all lengths to do so. 

Sisi's strategy is to continue to instill fear among Egyptians and carry out as harsh measures as possible to ensure control of the situation. It is a dangerous strategy and it serves in isolating him domestically, and we inside and outside Egypt need to be aware that this strategy gives strength to violent extremism, which nobody wants to happen in Egypt.

It is a society that is already strained economically and societally.

Sisi is trying to clean up the image of the regime and bring in investmnent. Do you not think that the court's decision is going to be detrimental to this?

Yes, on the one hand Sisi is trying to show Egypt as a safe place and he is eager to be accepted by the international community, and yet such sentences and the continued abuses of human rights and closure of all political space is also sending out another signal.

But it is about the image of stability not to reality. Egypt is not a stable place today, it is maintaining stability through fear and military control and closure of all political avenues.

Such an environment is not going to invite any real investment and will not serve the Egyptian people with economic development which is ultimately what is the key issue here.

What does this mean for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?

I think the Muslim Brotherhood is an organisation that has survived for 80 years and it will continue to be at the centre of the political resistance to the military regime.

I think if anything it will absorb these moves from the regime and I think that they will become stronger every time they are challenged.

They are a movement that has handled resistance from the state from Gamal Abdel Nasser to Hosni Mubarak and today under Sisi. All the signs are there that it is going to survive and even increase in popularity.