Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood sentenced to death earlier this week received a show of support from an unexpected corner on Wednesday, when one of Europe’s oldest Jewish organizations issued a statement condemning their “brief, tokenistic trial.”
European Jewry has often been at odds with the continent’s growing Muslim immigrant population. The Muslim Brotherhood is well known for its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views.
An Egyptian court sentenced the leader of the outlawed Islamic organization and 682 supporters to death on Monday, intensifying a crackdown on the movement that could trigger protests and political violence ahead of an election this month.
The Brotherhood, in a statement issued in London, described the ruling as chilling and said it would “continue to use all peaceful means to end military rule.”
In a separate case, a court affirmed death sentences of 37 others. The rulings were part of a final judgment on 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters condemned last month. The remaining defendants were jailed for life, judicial sources said.
In a statement sent to the press on Wednesday, the Conference of European Rabbis declared that “just as religious leaders have a collective responsibility to speak out against the strain of political and religious extremism often epitomized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, so too, we must speak out when human life is treated with such astonishing contempt.”
“Every human being, no matter what their crime, should have the right to a fair trial and the nonchalance with which this mass death sentence has been handed down should unite world leaders in condemnation,” the Jewish organization asserted.
Brotherhood leaders made extreme statements about Jews and Israel, going so far as to say that the “existence of a state for Jews is against all rules of states all over the world,” that they “pray to… see Israel is wiped off the map” and that “the Jews are in the habit of taking over the media.”
Reuters contributed to this report.