Alert Update: Prisoners of Faith Campaign (Egypt) – Muslim Brotherhood Trial Verdict Expected Soon

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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4 March 2008

Alert Update: Prisoners of Faith Campaign (Egypt) – Muslim Brotherhood Trial Verdict Expected Soon

Contents
1. Background
2. Action Required
3. Sample Letters

1. Background
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) trial verdict was expected in the session held on Tuesday, 26 February 2008, however, the verdict has been delayed and the session has been adjourned till 25 March 2008.

The detained MB leaders and members have been charged with money laundering, terrorism, and belonging to a banned organization. Additional charges of running and financing a banned organization have also been levelled against some detained members, including the third-in-command Khairat Al-Shater. If they are found guilty, they can face at least five years in prison.

The unjust military trial has been denounced by many notable international human rights groups, lawyers and activists.

Meanwhile, the government has stepped up its crackdown against MB, and has arrested scores of MB members across Egypt in dawn raids in the wake of local council elections scheduled for 8 April 2008. The arrest of the MB members coincides with the beginning of the 10-day registration period for candidates who wish to stand for the April elections. An MB spokesman stated that most of those arrested on Tuesday, 3 March 2008, were potential candidates for the elections. According to Reuters Africa, since mid-February, more than 300 MB members have been detained; the most recent arrests on Tuesday bring the total number detained to more than 750.

The local council elections play a very significant role in the presidential election. Since MB won one fifth of the 454 seats in the lower parliament in the 2005 parliament elections, the organization poses a great threat as the most powerful opposition party to the current Egyptian regime. According to MB official website, Ikhwanweb.com, chairman of MB political bureau Essam El-Erian, is of the opinion that ‘adjourning the verdict is a political decision aiming at pressuring the group’s political decisions ahead of the municipal elections. Therefore, it is expected that the sentencing session may be adjourned again till elections come to a close.’

For recent details of the trial, please visit: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3203 and https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3166

To download the Prisoners of Faith campaign pack on Khairat Al-Shater, please visit https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2652

This is a crucial period for Khairat Al-Shater and the rest of the detained MB members and IHRC requests all campaigners to email/fax the respective authorities mentioned at the end of the alert and urge them to ensure the release of the detained MB members.

2. Action Required

a. Write to the Foreign Minister in your country and urge him/her to work for the release of Khairat Al-Shater and all other MB political prisoners in Egypt.

UK campaigners can write to:

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Fax: +44 0207 839 2417
Email: private.office@fco.gov.uk

b. Write to the Egyptian Ambassador in your country and urge him/her to ensure release of Khairat Al-Shater and all the other MB political prisoners in Egypt.

UK campaigners can write to:

HE Mr Gehad Refaat Madi
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
26 South Street
London W1K 1DW

Fax: +44 20 7491 1542
Email: etembuk@hotmail.com

3. Sample Letters

Sample letters are given below for your convenience

Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

a. Sample Letter to Foreign Minister in Your Country

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

Re: Khairat Al-Shater and other Muslim Brotherhood Members in Military Trial

I am writing to you regarding Khairat Al-Shater and several other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders and members detained in Egypt since 14 December 2006. They were arrested after some students, affiliated to the society, staged a demonstration at Al Azhar University to protest against government interference in student elections.

Mr Al-Shater and the rest of the MB leaders are known for their good standing and reputable position in Egyptian society. The Cairo Criminal Court found no evidence of terrorism against the detainees and ordered their immediate release. However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry overruled the court decision and rearrested all the acquitted MB members. Thereafter, the state security prosecutor ordered the assets of all the detained leaders and their families to be frozen. A few days later, President Mubarak ordered the detainees to be tried in a military tribunal. This is not the first time that civilians in Egypt are being tried in a military court for non-military related charges.

The MB military trial has had several sessions, but there has been no positive outcome, instead many injustices and breaches of international human rights standards have been reported. Many noteworthy human rights activists, lawyers and international observers who came to Egypt to attend some trial sessions were turned down. Further, in addition to the charges of terrorism, money laundry and membership of a banned organization, more charges have been levied against the detained members. Mr Al-Shater has been additionally charged with financing a banned organization.

As Egypt is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it is obliged to provide freedom of expression and association to its civilians and uphold the rights of the detainees. Yet, the regime is known for its suppression of political expression. Under the Emergency Law, the President has the authority to arrest suspects at will, detain them without trial for prolonged periods and refer civilians to military courts whose procedures fall far short of international standards for fair trial. The recent constitutional amendments give additional powers to the regime to tighten its control over Egyptian society and restrict freedom further.

I request you to make representations on behalf of Khairat Al-Shater and the rest of the MB detainees and urge the Egyptian authorities to release them immediately. Your department has committed itself to promoting human rights and in this circumstance there has been a clear travesty of justice, where the detainees’ human rights have been abused.

Further, I request you to make representations to the Egyptian authorities to respect international human rights standards and to provide all citizens and opposition parties with their full civil rights, including the rights of freedom of expression and association.

I look forward to an early reply.

Yours sincerely

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

b. Sample Letter to Egyptian Ambassador to Your Country

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

Re: Khairat Al-Shater and other Muslim Brotherhood Members in Military Trial

I am writing to you regarding Khairat Al-Shater and several other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders and members detained in Egypt since 14 December 2006. They were arrested after some students, affiliated to the society, staged a demonstration at Al Azhar University to protest against government interference in student elections.

Mr Al-Shater and the rest of the MB leaders are known for their good standing and reputable position in Egyptian society. The Cairo Criminal Court found no evidence of terrorism against the detainees and ordered their immediate release. However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry overruled the court decision and rearrested all the acquitted MB members. Thereafter, the state security prosecutor ordered the assets of all the detained leaders and their families to be frozen. A few days later, President Mubarak ordered the detainees to be tried in a military tribunal. This is not the first time that civilians in Egypt are being tried in a military court for non-military related charges.

The MB military trial has had several sessions, but there has been no positive outcome, instead many injustices and breaches of international human rights standards have been reported. Many noteworthy human rights activists, lawyers and international observers who came to Egypt to attend some trial sessions were turned down. Further, in addition to the charges of terrorism, money laundry and membership of a banned organization, more charges have been levied against the detained members. Mr Al-Shater has been additionally charged with financing a banned organization.

Your country is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it is obliged to provide freedom of expression and association to its civilians and uphold the rights of the detainees. Yet, political expression is routinely suppressed in Egypt. Under the Emergency Law, the President has the authority to arrest suspects at will, detain them without trial for prolonged periods and refer civilians to military courts whose procedures are not in accordance with international standards for fair trial. The recent constitutional amendments give additional powers to the government to tighten its control over the society and restrict freedom further.

I request you to work for the immediate release of Khiarat Al-Shater and the other MB detainees.

Further, I request you to ensure that international human rights standards are respected in your country and that all citizens and opposition parties are provided with their full civil rights, including the rights of freedom of expression and association.

I look forward to an early reply.

Yours sincerely

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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