Egypt’s travesty: A mass sentencing follows a kangaroo court

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The promise of the Arab Spring that swept through much of North Africa and the Middle East two years ago has yet to be realized. Although dictators and autocrats found their regimes buckling and sometimes collapsing under the weight of popular uprisings, the governments that replaced them haven’t all been beacons of democracy.

There’s no bigger disappointment than Egypt, a longtime American ally now under the velvet fist of another military regime. Last year, President Mohammed Morsi’s democratically elected government was overthrown by a popular uprising sanctioned by the Egyptian military. Because Mr. Morsi was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the military was wary of him and welcomed his removal.

On Monday, an Egyptian judge sentenced 529 members of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death for the murder of a police officer. The trial, which lasted only two days, was remarkable because those charged were not allowed to call witnesses, present evidence or mount a defense.

Even by the authoritarian standards of the Hosni Mubarak regime, which preceded Mr. Morsi, it was a shocking verdict. The U.S. State Department denounced the mass sentences as “politically motivated.”

Although the verdict could be set aside by an appeals court or the grand mufti, Egypt’s supreme religious authority, the international human rights community isn’t withholding its condemnation.

Making matters worse, Egypt’s top prosecutor on Wednesday ordered two new mass trials for 919 suspected Islamists on charges of murder and inciting violence. What once was Egypt’s Arab Spring threatens to degenerate into a long, hot summer of injustice.


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