Kill them all

If you wondered whether Egypt was going back to totalitarianism, wonder no more:

A court in southern Egypt on Monday decreed a mass death sentence for nearly 700 people, including the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president.

On the same day, another Egyptian court banned the April 6 movement, which was among the primary engines behind the landmark 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt’s sharp turn toward authoritarianism in the nearly 10 months since an interim government took power has provoked expressions of concern from human rights groups and Western governments, but little in the way of meaningful punitive actions against the military-backed regime. Last week, the Obama administration resumed some of the military aid it had cut off in the wake of the coup last year against Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

Monday’s death penalty verdict in Minya, south of Cairo, came weeks after the same court issued a capital decree against nearly 530 defendants, stirring international outrage. Egypt’s judiciary has played an active role in a massive crackdown against supporters of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from office in July by the army after massive protests against his rule.

A court system that sentences 700 people to death in one day has nothing to do with justice, but everything to do with power. There’s more here:

After Monday’s ruling, which followed a single session in the case held last month, Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, said the defendants were not given the chance to properly defend themselves. The proceedings went on without the judge even verifying that the defendants were present, she said.

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