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Egypt's Judges Join In

The Crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood Enters a New Phase

An Egyptian policeman on trial in Alexandria, March 3, 2014. Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper / Courtesy Reuters

After a lightning-fast trial in the city of al-Minya, the hangman’s noose threatens 529 Egyptians. The men, alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were convicted of murdering a single police officer in riots last August that erupted after Egyptian security forces violently broke up two sit-ins in Cairo of supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi, killing over 800 people. The trial and sentencing, which took place in brief sessions, without defense lawyers able to present their case, might look like a simple reversion to the kind of repression that existed before Egypt’s 2011 uprising. But they actually mark a new phase in the decades-long struggle between the Egyptian state and the country’s oldest and largest Islamist group. In the end, both the government and the Muslim Brotherhood -- along with the Egyptian people for whom they each claim to speak -- will be the losers.

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