An Egyptian court handed down one of the largest number of death sentences at one time today in ordering the deaths of Mohamed Badie and 682 members of the group Badie leads, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a suspected Islamist group whose members supported Egypt’s ousted former president, Mohammed Morsi. The court also upheld sentences of capital punishment for 37 others, the Associated Press reported.
Badie and members of the Muslim Brotherhood were accused of taking part in violence and murders during protests in Cairo after Morsi was ousted.
What is considered the largest trial in Egypt’s history, has human-rights groups in fear of the military-backed government. Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, told World Bulletin that the death sentences are an effort to strike fear into dissenters.
"It seems that these sentences are aimed at striking fear and terror into the hearts of those who oppose the interim government, including the interim government."
Reactions to the death sentences have been fueling social media all morning:
Ali Kamal, a lawyer for the accused, said the hearing lasted only eight minutes. Kamal also said family members and media were blocked from attending the hearing.
"This is against the spirit of the law. The verdicts will be easily appealed," Kamal told reporters.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.