Egyptian Courts Overturn Death Sentences for 149 Muslim Brotherhood Members

by Jonathan WalshRabat – An appeals court in Egypt overturned on Wednesday the death sentences of 149 members of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood party, who were convicted for their involvement in the deaths of police officers in August 2013.Last February, 189 people had been sentenced to death in connection with the incident although over 30 of these still remain charged. They were found guilty  and have not yet surrendered, according to reports by AFP. The incident in question took place on August 16th 2013, when Egyptian security forces killed hundreds as they broke up protest camps set up following Mohammed Morsi’s ousting as President. The protests reflected the mass opposition to Morsi’s tenure as leader of Egypt.Supporters of the Brotherhood then attacked police stations in Kerdasa and Minya in retaliation, which resulted in the death of 16 police officers.Mr. Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, was the country’s first democratically elected president. He was himself sentenced to death in May of 2015, having escaped imprisonment for allegedly inciting members of the Brotherhood to carry out attacks during his demise.Founded in 1928, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says its goal is to be a peaceful movement that values democratic principles whilst seeking ultimately to create a state governed by Islamic Law.Despite this, Egyptian courts dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood’s political body, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), in 2014. Egypt’s current leader, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has also declared his intentions to eradicate the group altogether, which he believes “poses a major security threat to the country.”Amnesty International, among other human rights organizations, have condemned El-Sisi’s attitudes towards religious freedom, stating that, under his control, there has been a “dramatic deterioration in human rights.” read more

Brazils PresidentElect Bolsonaro to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

By Josh BabbRabat – Bolsonaro made the remarks on Thursday If the move does happen, Brazil would join just two other countries, the US and Guatemala, in stationing their embassy in the contested city of Jerusalem. Taking to Twitter, Bolsonaro said, “As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to praise Bolsonaro “for his intention to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem, a historic, correct and exciting step!”The Palestinians lay claim to parts of East Jerusalem which Israel has controlled since the 1967 six-day war. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its rightful capital. Most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. Rubens Barbosa, Brazil’s former ambassador to the US, says the move could endanger Brazil’s economic ties with Arab countries, stating the country risks “throwing away as much as $6 billion per year in poultry sales.”On Sunday, congressman Bolsonaro won a runoff election in Brazil against leftist candidate ex-Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, claiming 55 percent of the vote in a country where election participation is compulsory.The runup to Sunday’s election was marred by harsh rhetoric and political violence targeted at voters, journalists, and politicians. Bolsonaro himself was stabbed in the stomach at a rally in September.  Bolsonaro has a controversial history, often making crude comments targeting Brazil’s minorities, the LGBT community, and women. He once told a fellow congresswoman that she did not deserve to be raped because she was “very ugly.” He also publicly stated that he would rather see his son “die in an accident” than come out as homosexual. read more