TIME Egypt

Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Sentenced to Death

Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi raises his hands as he sits behind glass in a courtroom in the national police academy in an eastern suburb of Cairo
Ahmed Omar—AP Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi raises his hands as he sits behind glass in a courtroom in the national police academy in an eastern suburb of Cairo on May 16, 2015.

He was sentenced for a mass prison break in 2011

(CAIRO)—An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced the country’s first freely elected leader, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising that eventually brought him to power.

The ruling applies to another 120 people, and is the latest in a series of mass death sentences handed down since the military overthrew Morsi nearly two years ago. The sentence will likely further polarize Egypt, a longtime U.S. ally grappling with an Islamist insurgency that has intensified since Morsi’s overthrow.

In what appears to be the first violent response to the ruling, suspected Islamic militants gunned down three judges and their driver in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of al-Arish, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Egypt’s judiciary has come under mounting international criticism since Morsi’s ouster as it has handed down harsh mass sentences to Islamists and jailed secular activists for protesting. At the same time, the courts have acquitted or handed light sentences to top officials who served under President Hosni Mubarak, whose nearly 30-year reign was ended by the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

“These sentences are yet another manifestation of the deeply troubling way the Egyptian judiciary has been used as a tool to settle political disagreements,” Emad Shahin, a professor at the American University in Cairo who was sentenced to death in absentia wrote in a Facebook post.

“Due process, regard for evidence, and minimum standards of justice have been tossed aside in favor of draconian injustice,” wrote Shahin, now a visiting professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

As is customary in capital punishment cases, Judge Shaaban el-Shami referred his death sentences on Morsi and the others to the nation’s top Muslim cleric for his non-binding opinion. El-Shami set June 2 for the next hearing, and the sentences can be appealed.

Morsi already is serving a 20-year sentence for his part in the killing in 2012 of protesters outside a Cairo presidential palace.

The military overthrew Morsi in July 2013 following days of mass protests by Egyptians angered by his divisive policies. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who had been appointed military chief by Morsi, led his ouster, and was elected nearly a year ago in a vote boycotted by the Islamist opposition.

Since his ouster, authorities have cracked down on Islamists and pro-democracy activists who were instrumental in the 2011 uprising. Thousands of Morsi supporters have been jailed and hundreds killed in street clashes over the last two years, including at least 600 in one day, when security forces violently dispersed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in August 2013.

After the verdict was read Saturday, a smiling Morsi defiantly waved the four-finger sign associated with the sit-ins.

As the government has cracked down on Islamists and other activists, the courts have been far more lenient to Mubarak-era officials. Mubarak himself was acquitted in November of charges linked to the killing of hundreds of protesters in 2011 and has not spent a single day in prison since his arrest in April 2011.

The 87-year-old Mubarak was sentenced to three years for corruption on May 9 but was later declared a free man since he had already spent three years in detention, mostly at a Nile-side military hospital in a southern Cairo suburb. Prosecutors have appealed his acquittal over the death of protesters, and a high court will decide next month if he should be retried.

Sentenced to death with Morsi on Saturday were 105 defendants, including some 70 Palestinians. The defendants include the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie — who has already been sentenced to death in a separate trial — as well as one of the Arab world’s best known Islamic scholars, the Qatar-based Youssef al-Qaradawi. Most defendants were tried and convicted in absentia, meaning they will receive automatic retrials if they are detained.

Supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, now outlawed and branded a terrorist group, chanted “down, down with military rule” as the judge announced the verdict in a converted lecture hall in the national police academy.

Prosecutors alleged that armed members of the Palestinian Hamas group entered Egypt during the 18-day uprising through illegal tunnels running under the Gaza-Sinai border. Taking advantage of the turmoil, the militants fought their way into several prisons, releasing Morsi, more than 30 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders and some 20,000 inmates, prosecutors say. Several prison guards were killed and parts of the stormed prisons were damaged.

Hezbollah and Hamas operatives who had been convicted and sentenced to jail terms over terror-related charges were also sprung out of jail in 2011.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the sentencing to death of the Palestinians was “regrettable” and “shocking,” adding that “some of those convicted were killed before the Egyptian revolution and others are serving prison terms in Israel.” He said nothing about Morsi’s death sentence.

Hamas is the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood and enjoyed close relations with Morsi during his year in office, but has denied taking part in the prison breaks.

Amr Darrag, a Cabinet minister under Morsi and a co-founder of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, also blasted Saturday’s verdicts.

“Today will be remembered as one of the darkest days in Egypt’s history,” he said.

An Islamist opposition alliance led by the Brotherhood meanwhile called on Egyptians to step up the campaign to topple the “gang of treachery and usurpers” in the run-up to July 3, the second anniversary of Morsi’s removal from power.

Amnesty International also denounced the verdicts, saying “the death penalty has become the favorite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said el-Sissi’s government was returning to the “old Egypt” by rolling back democracy. He also criticized the West, saying it had failed to speak out against such death sentences.

Morsi escaped a death sentence in a separate case before the same judge related to allegations that he, several of his aides and Brotherhood leaders allegedly passed state secrets to foreign groups, including Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, during his time in office. A total of 16 senior Brotherhood leaders and aides were sentenced to death in that case, including one woman.

A verdict on Morsi’s role will be announced in the June 2 hearing.

TIME Middle East

These 5 Facts Explain the Troubled U.S.-Arab Relationship

Obama Hosts Gulf Cooperation Council Summit at Camp David
Kevin Dietsch—AP Obama encourages Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to make a statement alongside Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit at Camp David on May 14, 2015.

A summit in Camp David shows the growing gap between the U.S. and its Arab allies, thanks to changing oil politics and aging leaders

President Barack Obama just concluded a two day summit with America’s Arab allies. The meeting wrapped up a rocky week that started when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman publicly withdrew from the summit and sent his son and his young nephew in his place. These 5 stats explain the tense relationship between the U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies, and the challenges those alliances will face going forward.

1. It’s the Oil, Stupid.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia comprise the grouping of monarchies in the Persian Gulf known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They are all major oil producers, with Saudi Arabia the heavyweight of the lot. Together they account for 24% of the world’s crude oil production. But after decades of critical dependence on their oil, America, thanks largely to the mid-2000s shale boom, has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to lead the world in oil production. The GCC has felt this acutely—Saudi Arabia saw its oil exports to the US plummet 23.74% between 2008 and 2014. The Saudis are not content to take this lying down. Riyadh is busy ramping up its own production (achieving a record high of 10.3 million barrels per day this past April) in an effort to drive down oil and price more expensive U.S. shale producers out of the global market.

(Middle East Monitor, Bloomberg, Energy Information Administration, Financial Times)

2. The Paradox of Plenty

While Saudis are increasing production largely to strengthen their long-term market position, the gambit poses significant short-term risks. Oil prices had already been tumbling for months, and the price of oil directly affects economies like that are heavily reliant upon the commodity. 45% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP comes directly from oil and gas, 40% of the UAE’s, and around 50-60% each for Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. By keeping production high, Saudi Arabia is helping to keep oil prices low.

Economists often talk about the “resource curse,” when a country’s abundance of natural resources stunts the rest of its economy. In a healthy and balanced economy, the private sector should drive research, development and innovation. But only 20% of Bahraini nationals work in the private sector. The rest of the GCC are worse: a pitiful 0.5% of UAE nationals have the misfortune of private employment. The GCC countries have relied so long on oil that their workforces can’t compete in a globalized world. The ruling powers are keenly aware of this fact.

(Forbes, OPEC – UAE, OPEC – Qatar, OPEC – Kuwait, EIA, Al Jazeera)

3. Arab Spring, Still Blooming?

The GCC countries had a front-row seat to the Arab Spring. Beginning in 2011, countries throughout the Arab World erupted in demonstrations and protests, even bleeding into Bahrain and Kuwait. One of the main drivers of the movement was mass unemployment, which afflicts the affluent GCC as well. Ernst & Young estimates that unaddressed unemployment of youths aged 20-24 could eventually reach 40% across GCC member states. Those are numbers ripe for revolution.

The only thing scarier than the uprisings to the Gulf monarchs must have been the U.S. response to them. For years the understanding was that so long as the Gulf countries would keep the world market flush with oil, the U.S. would provide them with protection. Egypt had a variation of this type of relationship with Washington, but Obama wasted little time in throwing Hosni Mubarak under the bus in 2011—at least as the GCC see it. If Egypt could be sacrificed at the altar of democracy, why couldn’t Saudi Arabia be next?

(Bloomberg, Ernst & Young)

4. The Threat of Iran

Looming over the GCC Summit is America’s reengagement with Iran. Washington’s greatest leverage over Tehran is the possibility of lifting sanctions in exchange for a nuclear deal. Experts estimate that Iran’s economy could grow anywhere from 2% to 5% in the first year after lifting sanctions, and then 7-8% the following 18 months. Those are rates on par with the remarkable growth of the ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1990s.

It’s not just the additional economic competition that worries the GCC. Saudi Arabia has spent the better part of the last decade combatting Iran’s influence across Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, even Bahrain—the end of sanctions would give Tehran additional financing to escalate the regional rivalry. Further destabilizing the region are serious threats posed by groups like ISIS. This is why the GCC sought a formal, Japan-style security alliance with the U.S. The leaders who showed up in Washington couldn’t get the pact they wanted—a treaty requiring Congressional approval is a nonstarter—but they did get assurances of America’s continued military support and significant arms sales.

(Financial Times, Vox, Reuters, Economist)

5. Age Matters

The absence of the Saudi king, along with his counterparts from the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, sent the message that the status quo in the Middle East cannot continue. Their snub of Obama was intended to project an image of strength in the region. But the reality is that the oil-dependent GCC countries have serious structural problems that will take generations to solve. Instead of dealing with four rulers with an average age of 75, Obama sat across from representatives with an average age of 56. This younger generation is poised to lead their countries for decades to come. After 70 years of intense engagement, it is clear that the GCC countries need America as much as ever. The question is how much America needs them.

(Crown Prince Court – UAE, Kingdom of Bahrain (a), Kingdom of Bahrain (b) AlJazeera, Reuters, BBC, Forbes, Al-Monitor, White House )

TIME Crowdsourcing

World’s First ‘Crowdsourced Country’ Campaign Aims to Solve World Hunger

Jeremiah Heaton hopes to establish an agricultural research center on a slice of unclaimed land to help solve the world's food shortages

A U.S. farmer who professes to have established the “Kingdom of North Sudan” so his daughter could be a princess launched the world’s first “crowdsourced country” campaign Tuesday to nail down his claim.

Virginia resident Jeremiah Heaton is hoping to found a state-of-the-art agricultural research center on some 800 sq. mi. of ostensibly unclaimed land between Egypt and Sudan known as Bir Tawil.

The Kingdom of North Sudan, he says on the Indiegogo crowdfunding page, will be “a nation fully dedicated to researching and developing solutions for our current global food shortages and impending food crisis.”

Through the campaign, Heaton intends to fund some of the world’s top scientists to conduct research at the center and develop sustainable agriculture methods focusing on ways to improve food production using less water.

He’s even offering a range of incentives to garner donations for the project, which he estimates will cost $505.5 million over five years. For $25 you could have an honorary title in the new kingdom, or a knighthood for $300. Meanwhile, $1.5 million will give you naming rights for a future international airport or the capital city for $1.7 million.

You can even donate $2,500 to the campaign to “torment the king” by subjecting him to 48 hours of continuous Justin Bieber music.

Heaton began his wildly ambitious campaign after his 6-year-old daughter asked to be a real-life princess. Taking his daughter’s wish literally, he began searching for terra nullius, or unclaimed land, and found Bir Tawil in East Africa. On June 16, 2014, he visited the area and planted a homemade flag for his new country.

But to go any further with his plan, Heaton must receive legal recognition from Egypt and Sudan, the U.N. and other world bodies, which could prove tricky.

“There’s no way either Egypt or Sudan would let it happen,” Professor Paul Nugent, a former director of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh, told al-Jazeera.

TIME Egypt

Al Jazeera Journalist Sues Employer for Negligence Over Imprisonment

Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, formerly with Al-Jazeera, attends a press conference in Cairo on May 11, 2015.
Khaled Desouki—Getty Images Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, formerly with Al-Jazeera, attends a press conference in Cairo on May 11, 2015.

An Al Jazeera television journalist on trial in Egypt for allegedly aiding a terrorist organization is suing the news network for $100 million in compensation, his lawyer said Monday.

Mohamed Fahmy filed a lawsuit in a Canadian court claiming Al Jazeera’s negligent actions contributed to his 400-day detention in a Cairo jail on false charges, Reuters reports.

Fahmy was originally sentenced to seven to 10 years in prison on charges that included spreading lies to help the Muslim Brotherhood, a “terrorist organization,” along with fellow Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste. Earlier this year, Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail after a retrial was announced.

The lawsuit seeks to declare Al Jazeera negligent in its conduct toward Fahmy and said the network should pay $100 million in punitive and remedial damages for its role in Fahmy’s conviction and imprisonment.

Fahmy was one of thousands put in jail after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled the Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013.

[Reuters]

TIME Egypt

Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Corruption Charges

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, seated, waves to his supporters as he attends the verdict in the corruption case dubbed by the Egyptian media as the "presidential palaces" affair in Cairo
Hassan Ammar—AP Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, seated, waves to his supporters as he attends the verdict in the corruption case dubbed by the Egyptian media as the "presidential palaces" affair in Cairo, on May 9, 2015.

His sons face prison time too

(CAIRO)—Egypt’s deposed leader Hosni Mubarak and his two sons were sentenced Saturday to three years in prison and a fine in a retrial on corruption charges they faced earlier. It wasn’t immediately clear whether it will include time he’s already served since his country’s 2011 revolt.

The corruption case — dubbed by the Egyptian media as the “presidential palaces” affair — concerns charges that Mubarak and his two sons embezzled millions of dollars’ worth of state funds over the course of a decade. The funds were meant to pay for renovating and maintaining presidential palaces but were instead allegedly spent on upgrading the family’s private residences.

Mubarak was sentenced to three years, his sons to four in the case. He later appealed, sparking the retrial.

Supporters shouted in anger as Judge Hassan Hassanin announced his verdict.

“We believe in you! We trust Mubarak!” they yelled, as some women there began crying. Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the former leader’s face, and waved and blew kisses as the 87-year-old autocrat entered the courtroom.

Mubarak, wearing sunglasses, had no visible reaction to the verdict. His two sons, Gamal and Alaa, wore suits to the hearing and also had no reaction.

A lawyer for Mubarak said the judge’s decision can be appealed.

The verdict included a 125 million Egyptian pound ($16.3 million) fine to be paid among the three men, as well as the return of 21 million Egyptian pounds ($2.7 million) they embezzled. After the hearing, judicial and security officials said those amounts already had been paid by the Mubaraks following their first trial.

Mubarak returned to the military hospital in Cairo where he’s been held amid his trials. Officials said his two sons were taken to Torah Prison as authorities determine whether their time served would cover for the sentences Saturday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.

Many Egyptians view Gamal, Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent, and his brother, wealthy businessman Alaa, as key pillars of an autocratic and corrupt administration that struck an alliance with the mega-wealthy at the expense of the poor. Although father and son denied succession plans, that perception, along with corruption, police brutality and poverty, fueled the 2011 revolt.

Images of Gamal making public appearances have circulated on social media, first at a funeral last month and then last weekend with his family at the Giza pyramids. Mubarak

The rise of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has vowed stability after four years of turmoil and taken a tough line against dissent, has encouraged Mubarak supporters and upended the depiction of the revolution in the media, where activists now are most often cast as troublemakers or foreign agents. Hundreds of the young activists from the 2011 revolt now are either languishing in prison on charges of breaking a protest law or have left the country.

Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Mubarak’s freely elected successor, himself was overthrown by the military led by el-Sissi in 2013. Saturday’s hearing, at a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, took place in the same courtroom where Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for using force against protesters.

TIME Behind the Photos

How Photographers Are Trying to Put a Face on Europe’s Migrant Crisis

"I wanted to show that behind each migrant there’s a person”

European leaders are grappling with what’s being called one of the worst migrant and refugee crises in two generations. On Thursday, in a hastily formed summit in Brussels called after an estimated 800 people died in a capsizing off Libya while en route to Europe, leaders pledged new support to cap the rising death toll in the Mediterranean. But aid organizations and humanitarian officials said Europe is still “lagging far behind” of what’s realistically needed to ease the tragedy.

The crisis along the Mediterranean’s coastlines, from Libya to Morocco and Greece to Italy, is not new. Photographers have worked over the last decade to raise awareness as conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have displaced millions. Last June, one image crystallized the scale of this movement. Shot by Italian photographer Massimo Sestini aboard a helicopter taking part in Mare Nostrum, an Italian-led search and rescue operation largely funded by the European Union and abandoned late last year, it showed one boat with hundreds of people looking up, waving their arms. “You could see their desperation,” Sestini said last year. “And, concurrently, their happiness at being saved.”

The photograph, which TIME named one of the top 10 images of 2014, went on to win a World Press Photo award, but it told only one part of a much larger story.

“The only way to really tell the story is to spend time with them in their home countries, see how they live, learn why they leave and then just go with them on their way,” says Daniel Etter, a German photographer, who has documented migrants in northern Africa and across Europe. He called that “almost impossible” to do. Security risks, travel obstacles and financial barriers get in the way, leaving most photographers unable to build the kind of all-encompassing narrative that could help people understand the true nature of the crisis.

Some photographers have attempted to piece together the stories of migrants who risk their lives on these journeys. Alixandra Fazzina, a photographer with Noor, followed Somali migrants’ arduous trip across the Gulf of Aden in search of a better future in her book A Million Shillings, published in 2010. One in 20 who attempted the crossing lost their lives, their bodies washing up on Yemen’s shore.

She wanted to go deeper, she says, than the “small paragraph you find in a newspaper detailing the number of people that have died… I wanted to find out why they were making the journey. I wanted to find out why these people were willing to put their lives into the hands of smugglers and traffickers? Why would somebody do that?”

Olivier Jobard, a French photographer who followed a Cameroonian man’s trek to France, seeks similar answers. “What’s bothering me when we’re talking about immigration is that we often associate these people with ghosts and shadows,” he says. “They are not human in our minds.”

Italian photographer Alessandro Penso, who has been following migrants around Europe, focusing on hotspots like Greece, Italy and Malta, says he seeks moments of spontaneity to expose the humanity of his subjects.”There are simple gestures and habits in daily life that, as banal as they can seem to our eyes, hide the simple truth that we are all humans and vulnerable.”

Humanizing the people making these dangerous and harrowing journeys is important, Penso and his colleagues argue, especially when photography can lead to misconceptions. Cases in point are the widely published photographs of “hordes” of people scaling border fences in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the edge of northern Morocco. “[When] people see these images,” says Santi Palacios, an Associated Press photographer who has taken such pictures, “they [think] we’ve been invaded.”

The people portrayed in these images are often seen shirtless and shouting, Jobard says, deliberately assuming a provocative stance. “They actually choose to behave like ‘wild animals’ in these situations—to impress or to scare people because it’s a real battle to get in [Melilla]. Of course, that also does them disservice.”

Once they’ve made it over the fence, he says, the contrast is striking. “They dress up, they take care of their appearances.” Last year, he shadowed a man named Hassan Adam from the Ivory Coast, who spent hours on one of these fences, alone. His friends had made it across to Melilla, successfully avoiding the police forces, but Adam was handcuffed, beaten and sent back to Morocco. Jobard tracked him down, months later, after he had finally made it across. “I told his story,” he says. “I wanted to show that behind each migrant there’s a person.”

For all of those who made it over the fence, or past border patrols or across the Mediterranean, there are untold thousands who lost their lives in the search for a new or better one. In October, Italian photographer Francesco Zizola dived 59 meters to photograph the wreckage of a boat that had carried some 500 people, and now rests at the bottom of the Mediterranean. He sought to convey the vastness of the tragedy that had occurred one year before, when 360 people lost their lives.

“I wanted to show to everybody that our comfortable, bourgeois homes could turn—as if in a nightmare—into that cabin with the red curtain, which I photographed inside the sunken ship,” he says. “That cabin is the tomb of our collective conscience and a memento of our indifference.”

Alice Gabriner and Mikko Takkunen edited this photo essay. With reporting by Lucia De Stefani, a contributor to TIME LightBox.

Andrew Katz is a News Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @katz. Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent.

TIME Egypt

Former Egyptian President Faces Death Penalty

Mohammed Morsi
Tarek el-Gabbas—AP Egypt's ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi sits in a defendant cage in the Police Academy courthouse in Cairo, May 8, 2014.

Former President Mohamed Morsi will be judged and sentenced on Tuesday

Mohamed Morsi, once the elected president of Egypt, could be sentenced to death on Tuesday at the conclusion of a trial that has been one of the symbols of a state clampdown on the Islamists who once governed the country.

The former leader’s predicament is a sign of the sweeping reversal of fortunes suffered by his Muslim Brotherhood movement since he was removed from power by the military.

Morsi came to power in the country’s first election following the 2011 revolution that ended three decades of autocratic rule by President Hosni Mubarak. After a deeply polarizing year in office and a huge wave of protests against him, he was deposed by the armed forces in July 2013.

The military-backed government that replaced Morsi launched a crackdown on his supporters, producing the worst season of political violence in Egypt’s contemporary history. The Muslim Brotherhood was later designated a terrorist organization and its leaders jailed and placed on trial.

Following his removal from power, Morsi and several other former officials disappeared, their whereabouts unknown for weeks. Morsi resurfaced in in court in November 2013. When asked to identify himself, he told the court, “I am Dr. Mohamed Morsi and I am the President of the republic.”

In spite of Morsi’s defiance, the Brotherhood as an organization was sent into the political wilderness. Government and media alike portrayed them as terrorists, blaming them for a recent upsurge in armed attacks. Repulsed by Morsi’s own tone-deaf and autocratic tenure in power, erstwhile political allies abandoned them.

Several other Brotherhood leaders have been sentenced to death, including the group’s spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, who was convicted in a mass trial of 183 people for plotting violence following Morsi’s removal.

“The government is using death sentences as part of an elaborate signaling game in its talks with the Brotherhood, essentially holding some of the group’s officials as hostages to pressure the Brotherhood into submitting to the government’s terms,” said Aziz El-Kaissouni, a political analyst and former visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Morsi would be the trump card in that process; sentencing him to death wouldn’t leave much more room for escalation,” he said.

The former president is currently a defendant in three separate trials: one for spying, one for escaping prison during the 2011 uprising, and one for inciting the killing of demonstrators in 2012. The verdict and sentence are expected in the third trial on Tuesday.

The charges stem from violence that unfolded outside the presidential palace in Cairo in December 2012, when plainclothes Brotherhood supporters clashed with demonstrators. The incident marked a marked a political turning point. Many Egyptians saw the clashes as a troubling sign of the breakdown of public order.

Now Morsi is set to be sentenced by a court that has played a key role in the state campaign against the Brotherhood. Hundreds of Egyptians, including numerous alleged Brotherhood supporters, have been sentenced to death in mass trials. However any death sentence is unlikely to be carried out immediately.

“The judiciary is now extremely politicized and is used as a tool by the current government,” said Samer Shehata, an Egypt scholar at the University of Oklahoma. “We need no further confirmation,” he said, “that political space has closed considerably in Egypt and the country is not democratizing.”

Since the 2013 military takeover, Egypt has been shaken by an increase in insurgent attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds of members of the security forces, particularly in the north Sinai region. Government officials blame the Brotherhood for the violence, but the organization insists that it is peaceful and has publically condemned some attacks.

In response to the expected verdict, The Brotherhood called for demonstrations on Tuesday. “The Egyptian Revolution is at a critical moment where the military junta, having failed to halt the growing protest and peaceful resistance movement, is endeavoring to push the country into a spiral of chaos using all tactics of repression, murder and torture,” the group said in a statement issued from its London office.

“The Rubicon was crossed with the mass killings of August 2013,” said Kaissouni, “Since then, we’ve been witnessing the inexorable transformation of Islamism in Egypt, manifest in the growing irrelevance of organized, nonviolent Islamist opposition, and the concurrent rise of Islamic militancy.”

TIME Egypt

Egyptians Question President’s Decision to Go to War in Yemen

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi meeting with his Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, the chief of intelligence and military officials in Cairo on April 16, 2015.
Fadi Fares—AFP/Getty Images President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi meeting with his Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, left, the chief of intelligence and military officials in Cairo on April 16, 2015

Egypt's last foray into Yemen in the 1960s was a disaster and the country is beset by domestic problems

A public debate is unfolding in Egypt about whether to expand the country’s role in military invention against Houthi rebels in Yemen, creating a political predicament that could undermine the Saudi-led campaign to support the government.

Egypt said it would join the coalition that is bombing Yemen to combat the Houthis and the forces loyal to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Egypt sent naval vessels to Yemen’s coast and Egyptian officials have said that a ground assault was planned.

But now there are signs that public anxiety is creating a dilemma for Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who must balance the concerns of a public worried about domestic security and social problems, and the pull of Saudi Arabia, a close ally that has donated billions to Egypt’s government.

Looming large in the public consciousness is the legacy of Egypt’s invasion of Yemen in 1962 and five years of fighting in which more than 10,000 Egyptian soldiers died.

The war is remembered as a disaster which partially contributed to Egypt’s 1967 defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War. In 1967, Egypt had some 70,000 troops in Yemen and many Egyptians see Yemen as Egypt’s Vietnam.

The memory of Egypt’s war in Yemen has been resurrected in recent weeks by skeptical pundits, newspaper columnists, and political parties who oppose sending troops.

Among the critics of intervention is Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, a commentator and confidant of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser who ordered the 1962 invasion. “We shouldn’t jump to war,” he said on TV this month. “Yemen is a sleeping volcano south of the Arabian Peninsula. If it erupts, it will sweep the entire region.”

President al-Sisi responded to critics on April 4, saying that Egypt’s current role in the Saudi-led campaign could not be compared with the 1962 invasion, saying he cared for “every drop of blood and every son of this country.”

The debate could complicate the calculations of Saudi officials. At the outset of the assault on Yemen, Saudi Arabia touted the participation of 10 countries in the coalition. That message was dealt a setback last week when Pakistan’s parliament voted against joining the intervention. The Pakistani decision, in turn, was front-page news in Egypt.

“This all puts the Saudi position in quite a quandary, if they intended something far more muscular, because they were clearly trying to rely on subcontractors, so to speak,” said Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. He added the Saudis are now faced with the prospect that “unless they were willing to put their own army on the ground, then they have no ground option.”

Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud met President al-Sisi on Tuesday. They discussed the Yemen crisis and the two agreed on “a major strategic military maneuver on Saudi territory.” But no announcement was made about a commitment of Egyptian troops to Yemen.

The Yemen debate also comes when Egypt’s military and security forces are battling an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and facing a steady string of bombs and armed attacks in Cairo and other cities. On Sunday alone, 13 people were killed in two separate bomb attacks in north Sinai.

“It’s been a bad couple of days in Sinai, and that magnifies the anxieties, because you’re going off to tend to this foreign engagement at a time when you’ve got perhaps containable but mounting problems at home,” said Michael Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation in New York City.

In Egypt’s polarized political context, some commentators dismiss the concerns about the operation in Yemen as speculation. “It’s very uninformed anxiety because there’s no comparison to the intervention that happened during the glory of the Nasser years,” says Hisham Kassem, the former publisher of the privately owned newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. “None of us is in a position to speak about the military operation itself.”

“Egypt is not really participating,” says retired Egyptian Brigadier General Safwat al-Zayat. “The planning was Saudi-American. Saudi Arabia will decide, with American consultation, who will participate, and at what level.”

Khaled Fahmy, a professor of history at the American University in Cairo, said the current debate in Egypt contrasted with the political situation in Egypt during the last Yemen war in the 1960s

“Back in the ’60s when Nasser sent Egyptian troops to Yemen, no one expressed any anxiety. There was no debate,” he said. “Now in Egypt, in spite of the fact we don’t have a sitting parliament, people are writing. People are talking, so much so that the President had to allay these fears.”

The recent signs of dissent also come in the wake of a sweeping state clampdown on political opponents following the military’s removal of elected President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Morsi’s presidency and his removal left the public deeply divided, with many backing the military.

“This is the kind of situation where they [the state] could face very real public disgruntlement and dissent. There are very few issues that could produce that kind of reaction. This seems like one,” said Hanna. “There has been an interesting level of questioning. That hasn’t been the case in the past year and a half.”

TIME Egypt

American Sentenced to Life in Prison in Egypt After Participating in Protests

Ohio State graduate Mohamed Soltan is being held in an Egyptian prison.
Courtesy of Hanaa Soltan Ohio State graduate Mohamed Soltan is being held in an Egyptian prison.

Mohamed Soltan, 27, was arrested in 2013

An Egyptian court has sentenced a 27-year-old American citizen to life in prison.

Mohamed Soltan, a graduate of Ohio State University, was arrested in 2013 after Egyptian security forces stormed a sit-in protest of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Soltan was shot during the violent break-up of the protest, and was taken into custody along with his father, who was an active political opposition figure within the Muslim Brotherhood.

Soltan faced terrorism-related charges, including belonging to the now banned-Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news. Throughout the demonstrations, Soltan served as media activist for the sit-in protests and as a…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME On Our Radar

Photojournalist Moises Saman Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Photojournalist wins prestigious fellowship

Magnum photojournalist Moises Saman was about to step out to dinner in Barcelona last night when he heard some very pleasant news: he had just been awarded the prestigious 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Awarded annually since 1925 “to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions” the Guggenheim is one of the most prestigious awards of its kind.

Saman says he had long known of the Fellowship, but assumed it was geared towards topics such as “poetry and science,” he tells TIME. “I knew there’s a photography element but it tends to be fine art.”

Nevertheless, Moises submitted a photojournalism project on the Arab Spring—part of which is shown in this gallery. Shot from 2011 to the present day across Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Kurdistan, Saman says he “felt really strongly about this body of work and felt it was very relevant to the times.”

Saman plans to use the funds to continue the Arab Spring project. Next step? He’s going to Kurdistan in May.

Moises Saman is a Spanish-American member of Magnum Photos and winner of awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year and the Overseas Press Club.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

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