As Morsi’s trial devolves into spectacle, a look at the Muslim Brotherhood


Egyptian state TV aired this footage from the courtroom. Video by Cairo Today

Monday’s trial of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and 14 members of the Muslim Brotherhood was delayed until Jan. 8, 2014 when the former ruler refused to put on a prison uniform and his co-defendants drowned out the court proceedings with defiant chants.

Facing charges of inciting violence and murder, Morsi said, “I am the president of the republic, and I am here against my will.”

The PBS NewsHour has examined the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the ongoing conflict in Egypt since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. We’ve heard from Egyptians involved with the movement, and gathered analysis from observers.

Reporting from Cairo amid a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Margaret Warner spoke with a few one-time allies of the group who later developed a different view of the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.

“The first chant of this revolution was about freedom. It was definitely not about some fanatic religious cult coming and telling you what you can write, which sports you can play, what your children will study at school. Morsi was trying to change Egypt from being Egyptian to being Islamist. Islam is part of the Egyptian composition, but it’s one part.”

Wael Nawara, politician and writer.

Hari Sreenivasan talked with Zachery Lockman, professor of modern Middle Eastern History at New York University, about the wider implications of the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the ongoing conflict in Egypt.

“The Islamists, Muslim Brothers and others were invited to join the political game. And from their point of view, they did. And now they’ve been removed from power despite having won elections. So this sends a very risky message across the Muslim world that democracy’s really not for you. And leading to some people concluding that violence is the only answer.”

Hari also spoke with Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, who explained how the repercussions felt in Egypt could extend to its neighbors.

“Where Egypt goes, the rest of the region will follow,” he said.

Days before his arrest for inciting violence and murder, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad spoke with Margaret via Skype on the group’s charges, among other topics.

“I can only speak for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and we control that dialect quite enough. And we actually directed it towards non-violence and towards inclusion. Some did sway off course from other factions, but we can’t be held accountable to them.”

Watch the PBS NewsHour tonight for the latest developments from Egypt and analysis of what will happen next.