Turkey’s Erdoğan slams Mursi death sentence as return to 'ancient Egypt'
Turkish President Erdoğan (L) makes the 'Rabia' gesture, which became a symbol of support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's deposed president Morsi. DHA - AA photosTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the death penalty issued for former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, likening the country to "ancient Egypt" while criticizing the Western stance over the coup, which was led by Morsi's successor Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
"Egypt is turning into ancient Egypt. Sisi cannot be confronted. The West does not display a stance against Sisi the coup-maker," Erdoğan said in his speech during an inauguration ceremony in Istanbul on May 16.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry, too, condemned the ruling, describing it as "a new black stain" for Egypt.
The leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), on the other hand, called on Cairo to stop "political executions" but criticized Erdoğan for “taking sides.”
"I want them to put aside these political executions. All societies should uphold a sublime sentiment like mercy," CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said during an election campaign rally in the southern province of Adana.
"When we form our government, we will respect all parties in Egypt,” Kılıçdaroğlu vowed.
Hours before these remarks, an Egyptian court condemned Morsi and more than 100 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood in connection with a mass jail break in 2011.
Morsi and his fellow defendants, including the Brotherhood's top leader Mohamed Badie, were convicted for killing and kidnapping policemen, attacking police facilities and breaking out of jail during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, according to Reuters.
The court, expected to make a final ruling on June 2, also sought capital punishment for Brotherhood leader Khairat el-Shater and 15 others for conspiring with foreign militant groups against Egypt.
The cases, like all capital sentences, will be referred to Egypt's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for an opinion before any executions can take place.
Morsi can appeal the verdict, although he has said the court is not legitimate, describing all legal proceedings against him as part of what he calls a coup staged by former army chief Sisi in 2013.
Morsi was elected after Mubarak was deposed. In turn he was overthrown after mass protests against his rule in 2013.
He stood defiant in a court cage in a blue prison outfit pumping his fists in the air before the sentences were read out.
Muslim Brotherhood official Amr Darrag, who is currently in exile in Istanbul, slammed the court's decision and called on the international community to take action.
"This is a political verdict and represents a murder crime that is about to be committed, and it should be stopped by the international community," Darrag, co-founder of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood, told Reuters from Istanbul.
Human rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of widespread abuses in a crackdown on Brotherhood supporters as well as secular activists, allegations they deny.