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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Explained: Who is Mahmoud Ezzat, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood convicted by Cairo court?

Mahmoud Ezzat’s conviction on terrorism charges are related to violence that ensued after Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 10, 2021 8:20:32 am
An image of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat from October 2010. (Source: DW)

On Thursday, Cairo’s Criminal Court sentenced Mahmoud Ezzat to life imprisonment for murder and terrorism charges. Ezzat is the senior leader of the now outlawed organisation called the Muslim Brotherhood and the charges on him relate to what is known in the media as “Guidance Bureau Riots”, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

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Who is Mahmoud Ezzat and what are the charges against him?

Ezzat was born on August 13, 1944 and was the deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that after getting acquainted with the Brotherhood as a boy, he began studying with the group in 1962. From 1965-1974, Ezzat was imprisoned along with Supreme Guide Muhammad Badie and subsequently, in 1981, became a member of the Brotherhood Guidance Office.

Ezzat’s conviction on terrorism charges are related to violence that ensued after Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military.

The Criminal Court sentenced four defendants to death and 14 others to life imprisonment over inciting violence that led to violent clashes that took place outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Mokkatam district in Cairo in 2015, MENA said in a report. Ezzat was arrested in 2020 during a security raid on his apartment after he had been on the run for about seven years.

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What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

They are a movement that was founded in Egypt in 1928 by a schoolteacher named Hassan al-Banna, who preached that an Islamic religious revival would help Muslim nations improve their situation and defeat their colonial masters. While Hassan al-Banna was not specific about the kind of Muslim revivalist government he was advocating, his ideas travelled all over the world, and inspired a large number of Islamist groups and movements — not just political movements and parties, but also powerful missionary and charitable initiatives. Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia are among the countries that have large parties that trace their origins to the Brotherhood. Not all of today’s movements and organisations call themselves the Muslim Brotherhood, however.

During a meeting between former US President Donald Trump and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2019 at the White House, al-Sisi urged the US to impose sanctions on the Brotherhood, which opposes his government.

Al-Sisi’s predecessor Mohamed Morsi who died in June 2019 was a member of the Brotherhood. Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected President in the wake of a violent movement against predecessor Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic role. However, Morsi himself was ousted a year later by al-Sisi in a coup, amid a movement against perceived attempts to monopolise power and Islamise Egypt. At the time, the military ousted Morsi, dissolved the Parliament and banned the organisation, designating it as a “terrorist group”.

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