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Mohamed Morsi during his trial in Cairo on March 26, 2015
Mohamed Morsi during his trial in Cairo on March 26, 2015
Omar Said

CAIRO — When the Egyptian regime carried out the hanging of six defendants last week in the Arab Sharkas case, it was sending a clear message to former President Mohamed Morsi a day after a Cairo court sentenced the former leader and another 106 people to death. Such is the interpretation of events in the capital by attorney Ahmed Helmy, who represented some of the Arab Sharkas defendants.

The six men were accused members of the militant group formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, and had been sentenced to death last October. As for Morsi and the other defendants, the court handed them a death sentence on charges of prison break.

But execution in Morsi"s case would have heavy political and security implications. "A decision of the sort is not in the best interest of the country's security, or the daily life of citizens," says Abdel Latif al-Bedeiny, former deputy interior minister. "It will only open the door to more violence, which will worsen the conflict between both parties."

Commenting on one of the major flaws commonly cited in the case, he adds, "I do not want to comment on a judicial verdict, but having deceased Palestinians among those convicted raises big question marks."

Among the Palestinians convicted alongside Morsi are Hassan Salama, a detainee in Israeli prisons since 1996; Tayssir Abou Sneema, who was killed by Israeli forces in 2009; Hossam al-Sanei, who was killed in 2008; and Raed al-Attar, founder of the Qassam Brigades, also killed by Israel in the last attack in Gaza.

Ahmed Ban, a researcher on Islamic movements, agrees. "I cannot imagine a sane authority would carry out these verdicts," he says. "Taking that step would open the door for a civil war."

Ban, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, adds, "Carrying out these verdicts means that we have reached the final stage of the confrontation between the Brotherhood and the state, which goes against the history of this conflict. The state has always managed to maintain a balance between confrontation and political settlement with the group. Even if the confrontation seems to now be at its peak, there is room for political settlement."

But Bedeiny blames the escalation in this verdict on the failure of both the Brotherhood and the state to find grounds for reconciliation, especially in the absence of deft political mediation.

In making this claim, Bedeiny also unintentionally points to the verdict's politicization and the judiciary behind it.

"There is an entity trying to embarrass the state and the executive authority," Ban says, in an elusive reference to the judiciary and the security apparatus. "I do not understand how an individual is acquitted from charges of espionage and then sentenced to death because he escaped from prison during a revolution. There seems to be an entity trying to pressure the state to gain or maintain power."

Morsi was sentenced to death on charges of prison escape. He was never sentenced in the espionage case.

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How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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