An Egyptian court handed out death sentences to 683 Muslim Brotherhood supporters on Monday of last week, including several of its leading figures.
The mass hearing was over in hours. Some defendants were not even in court.
The charges were in connection with the street protests after the fall of president Mohamed Mursi. The same judge announced that 37 of the 529 death sentences he passed in a single case in March had been upheld.
On the same day the secular April 6 youth movement was banned by the court of summary in Cairo. The court declared that the group was responsible for “espionage” and “activities that distort Egypt’s image”.
Revolutionary Socialist Wassim Wagdy told Socialist Worker, “These are the judges of the counter-revolution. Even Hosni Mubarak didn’t ban the April 6 movement.”
The court’s decisions were based on allegations relating to political activity in 2011. One woman was accused of “using the media to provoke chaos” because of a video clip she made then. “They are trying to criminalise being a revolutionary,” said Wassim.
Khaled Al-Masri, the media director of the April 6 movement, mocked a decision to shut down its headquarters by pointing out that it had none. He asked, “How would they ban people from assembling in coffee shops, clubs and other places?”
The ban confirms that the regime has the revolutionary left in its sights.
Several leading revolutionaries are in prison and a number of Revolutionary Socialists face jail.
Mahienour El-Massry, a leading Revolutionary Socialist in Alexandria, was given a two-year jail sentence in her absence in January. She faces a court hearing on 20 May.
The clampdown makes open resistance in the streets a rarity. So when several thousand marched to the presidential palace in Cairo last Saturday it was an important expression of resistance. All those opposed to the military and Mursi organised the protest.
They ripped down posters of the still popular ex-military leader Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who is set to win June’s presidential elections. A popular slogan on the demonstration was, “Those who chant for Mursi and Sisi...the first is not returning and the second will not be my president.”
The Revolutionary Socialists are calling for a vote for the only alternative candidate, left nationalist Hamdeen Sabahi. They note that Sabahi has been discredited because he has not opposed the army but argue that “every vote which is lost to el-Sisi is valuable, if not today, then tomorrow in building the genuine, broad opposition.”