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After fig leaf polls: Field Marshall el-Sisi sworn-in for second term as President of Egypt

Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been sworn for a second four-year term in office as President of Egypt.

US-client, El-Sisi was army chief when he overthrew Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Filed Marshall el-Sisi was sworn in following the so-called elections in March last when he received 96.9 percent of the votes.

Not surprisingly, the elections were criticized as a one-man show with no credible opposition. At least six other candidates pulled out, were prosecuted or jailed.

The only other opponent who ran against Sisi was little-known Mousa Mostafa Mousa, who entered the race hours before the deadline and whose party had previously endorsed the president.

According to Abdullah al-Arian, Georgetown University Assistant Professor of History, “one of Morsi's mistakes during his presidency was that he led people to assume that he'd taken the reigns of the state when in fact he hadn't. He was simply put in a position to give people the idea that a real revolution had occurred. The state, meanwhile, was very much in the hands of the same people as it was under (the deposed President) Mubarak.”

Air Force General Hosni Mubarak, another US-client, ruled Egypt ruthlessly for almost 30 years. He was forced to step down in February 2011 amid massive anri-government demonstrations.

Arrests and disappearances

Human rights defenders have regularly accused (Field Marshall)  el-Sisi of violating public freedoms and suppressing his opponents, who, along with vocal members of civil society, have been arrested in recent months, Al Jazeera reported Saturday adding:

“Two of those arrested are the blogger and journalist, Wael Abbas, and Shadi Ghazali Harb, a youth leader during the 2011 revolution. Hazim Abdelazim, who has described his decision to head the youth committee of Sisi's successful 2014 presidential bid as his "biggest mistake", has also been detained.”
 

"The path the Sisi government took has been linear - eliminating the public sphere, or the political space has always run alongside arrests of dissidents, activists and human rights advocates," Fadi al-Qadi, a commentator on human rights in the Middle East and North Africa, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying.

"The truth is, no one is immune under Sisi ... these two incidents of arrests are probably meant to dismiss any thought that Sisi may tolerate certain types of dissent in Egypt - on the contrary, he does not," al-Qadi said.

Bloggers Sherif Gaber and Shady Abuzaid, known for their YouTube and Facebook videos were also arrested this month. Last week, an Egyptian military court sentenced journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani to 10 years in prison. Alexandrani, an expert on armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula, was arrested in November 2015 and accused of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

According to Abdullah al-Arian, Georgetown University Assistant Professor of History, “one of Morsi's mistakes during his presidency was that he led people to assume that he'd taken the reigns of the state when in fact he hadn't. He was simply put in a position to give people the idea that a real revolution had occurred. The state, meanwhile, was very much in the hands of the same people as it was under Mubarak.”

Egyptian Kangaroo Court jails 65 Morsi supporters up to 10 years

 

Field Marshall el-Sisi’s sworn-in follows confirmation of harsh sentences by Egypt's top kangaroo court last month against 65 loyalists of the currently outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group over committing acts of violence in 2013 in the capital Cairo.

The jail terms were from seven to 10 years. The rulings of the Court of Cassation are final and un-appealable.

The convicts have been accused of holding illegal protests, committing acts of riots and violence that killed some citizens and attempted to kill others, storming public and private properties and other charges.

The pro-Brotherhood protests were held following the coup against the first democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders, members and supporters, including Morsi himself and the group's top chief Mohamed Badie, are currently in jail. Many have received death sentences and life imprisonments over various charges varying from inciting violence and murder to espionage and jailbreak.

The former President Mohammad Morsi is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence over inciting deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents in late 2012 and a 25-year jail term over leaking classified documents to Qatar.

Since Morsi's ouster, Egypt has been facing a wave of attacks that have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers as well as civilians.

Egyptian forces have killed hundreds of anti-government elements and arrested thousands during the country's so-called anti-terror war declared by Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who ousted President Morsi.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was Army General when he led coup against Morsi, later he assumed the title of Field Marshall.

Egyptian judicial system has become a joke

Not surprisingly, in January this year CNN quoted an Egyptian attorney as saying that Egypt is using death sentences to settle scores.

Human rights advocates say the alarming numbers recorded by the Egyptian Coordination for Rights & Freedoms and the Initiative for Personal Rights are shocking -- but the stories behind them are even more harrowing, the CNN said adding:

What happened to four families from the northern city of Kafr el-Sheikh is a case in point. After more than a year of campaigning to have their loved ones' death sentences commuted in a case clouded by allegations of flaws in Egypt's judicial system, they received phone calls directing them to collect their relatives' bodies early on January 2.

Tellingly, an Egyptian Kangaroo Court in February 2016 sentenced a four-year-old child to life imprisonment. The child, Ahmed Mansour Qurani Ali, was convicted on four counts of murder and eight counts of attempted murder. The Egyptian military admitted the mistake only after the story had already circled the globe.

To borrow Dr Mohamad Elmasry, an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama:

“The absurdity of the mass death sentences has cast grave doubt over the extent to which Egypt's judiciary is to be taken seriously, let alone considered independent. As Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson noted: "Mass death sentences are fast losing Egypt's judiciary whatever reputation for independence it once had."

“The judiciary has also helped with a wider crackdown on liberal politicians and journalists considered threats to Egypt’s ruling regime. In 2014, Egypt's judiciary sentenced Al Jazeera journalists to prison after a trial that HRW said presented "zero evidence of wrongdoing". The judiciary has also upheld prison sentences and decisions to ban liberal groups and activists.

“Meanwhile, Egyptian judges have been easy on members of Egypt's deep state. They have acquitted Mubarak of murder and corruption charges; key Mubarak-era ministers of corruption charges; and police officers accused of killing protesters. In 2014, a court also annulled a sentence given to an officer convicted of killing 37 prisoners by suffocation.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

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