Middle East

Little sympathy for Morsi in Egypt press

Ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi looks from behind dock bars during trial session, in Cairo Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mohammed Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a court in Cairo

The sentencing of ousted President Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison for ordering the detention and torture of opposition protesters by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in 2012 is headline news in the Egyptian press, although state television channels are ignoring it.

Comment in all but Brotherhood media is unsympathetic to Morsi, and several highlight complaints that the prison sentence is too lenient.

Elsewhere in the Middle East coverage of the story is scant, although media in Qatar, which supported Morsi before he was overthrown by the military in 2013, and Iran criticise the verdict as political.

'I'll be back'

Egyptian newspapers devote space to Morsi's response to the verdict.

State-run Al-Akhbar notes his warning to prison officers: "I'll be back... and remove you." Several privately-owned dailies meanwhile say he seemed "astonished and bewildered" and "kept yelling" when told to put on the blue prison uniform worn by convicts.

Image copyright Al-Akhbar
Image caption Al-Akhbar quotes Mohammed Morsi as declaring: "I'll be back."

Al-Shuruq al-Jadid prefers to note that he regained his composure while "smiling and waving" to senior Brotherhood figures who were co-defendants in his trial.

Commentators in the mainstream press see the verdict as just.

Ahmad Musa in official Al-Ahram says it shows that "criminal" Brotherhood leaders "were raised in the doctrine of shedding the blood of others", and Ibrahim Mansur in private Al-Tahrir says even a president can be judged for "abusing the rights of the people".

Some papers report that relatives of those killed in the 2012 clashes see the verdict as too lenient, while others like private Al-Yawm al-Sabi are proud that Egypt is the sort of country where even presidents have to face justice.

Brotherhood newspapers have been banned in Egypt since December 2013, but their online media like Misr Alaan TV all dub the verdict a "farce", and insist a "third party" was responsible for the 2012 violence.

The official Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwanonline website says the "null and void court sentences... will only increase the resilience and resolve of President Mohammed Morsi and the revolutionaries".


The verdict generates little comment elsewhere in Arab countries, except for traditionally sympathetic media in the Gulf.

Qatar's Al-Watan reports Amnesty International's condemnation of the trial as a "sham", and Ahmad al-Qaud in Al-Rayah says the verdict is "purely political".

Among London's influential pan-Arab papers, Saudi-owned titles devote little attention to the story, but independent Al-Quds al-Arabi, which is critical of the government in Cairo, says the verdict will "deepen the crisis" in Egypt.

The verdict is front-page news in several Iranian papers, and comment across the political spectrum is critical.

Pro-reform Sharq says "many Egyptians still support the Brotherhood" and will protest against the sentence, and hardline Javan also predicts "negative consequences" for President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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