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Egypt Should Rethink Its Death Sentences over Muslim Brotherhood 
IDEA Editorial February 2, 2015

The Institute of Development and Education for Africa (IDEA) appeals to the Government of Egypt led by President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, to rethink and reconsider the death sentence of 183 Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members and refute the Court’s decision. The rationale of IDEA’s appeal is not simply based on human rights parameters, but also on anticipating the negative consequences of the capital punishments that might otherwise haunt Egypt in the long haul. 

We at IDEA prioritize development and education issues pertaining to the African continent, but since politics and its attendant detachments like human rights and democracy are inseparable from development agendas, we have also produced and posted numerous articles on Africa, which are essentially political in nature.

We at IDEA are cognizant of the general trend of history characterized by democratic movements, policies, and implementations, which have become the current global vogue. Africa could immensely benefit from the democratic projects [if genuinely implemented] that could potentially create peace and stability, two twin factors that, in turn, reinforce development strategies and transformations by default. On the other hand, conflict and instability engender further conflicts and destructions, and it is for this apparent reason that we argue Egypt to rethink its death sentences and opt for a peaceful national reconciliation rather.

We at IDEA also very well understand that the Muslim Brotherhood would have presided over fanatic political groupings and would have compromised modern Egypt’s long history of secularism. They could also have threatened Egypt’s stability as well as the relative tranquility of the region. However not all Muslim Brotherhood members are notorious and bad, and as such they should be rehabilitated and reunited with the larger Egyptian society rather than be eliminated and pay with their lives.

Some MB leaders, who were arrested following the fall of Mohammed Morsi, are educated and professional people and Egypt can win their hearts by extending sympathetic altruism. By doing so, Egypt actually can benefit by using the expertise and entrepreneurial skills especially of the moderate MB members. Some of the MB leaders who are now behind bars are Mohammed Badi, Gehad al-Haddad, Mohammed al-Beltagi, Essam el-Erian, Ahmad Arif, Abd-al-Rhaman al-Barr, and Khairat al-Shatir, who are the product of Egypt and who could reasonably serve their nation if freed and given a chance to mingle with their fellow Egyptians, if necessary by admitting their mistakes and apologizing.

We also understand that the Egyptian death sentences were prompted by an MB mob that attacked a police station near Cairo in which several officers were killed. The death of these officers should not be in vain indeed, but death sentences are neither going to bring them back to life nor bring any meaningful solution to crime and other societal problems in Egypt. Egypt, and for that matter all other African nations, must learn a lesson from South Africa, whose leadership came up with a very noble idea of ‘truth and reconciliation’, by which they have forgiven their yesteryear oppressors and torturers, and this was a preferred avenue for peace and development despite Mandela’s incarceration for 27 years and oppression and dehumanization of the African indigenous people by the white-dominated regimes for 342 years.

The government of Egypt should listen to peace loving people around the world, including Egyptian citizens and religious leaders like the Grand Mufti, a highly respected Muslim scholar considered as custodian and interpreter of Islamic law. They too are appealing to the high ranking Egyptian political officials to spare the lives of MB members charged with crimes. 

If, on the other hand, the Egyptian leaders ignore world public opinion and carry out the death sentences, the results could be catastrophic in terms of 1) producing invidious sentiments among the Egyptian people, and 2) escalating a more militant MB and ISIS-like gangster culture. Therefore, Egypt is best advised to either forgive and rehabilitate the MB members or commute their sentences to less severe punishments.

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