Egypt’s army kills 20 in Sinai, wounds 12

Amid crackdown on Islamic dissidents, many of the country's lawyers are also finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.

October 22, 2015 17:48
1 minute read.
sinai smoke

Smoke rises in Egypt's North Sinai as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt July 1, 2015. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Egyptian army said on Thursday that it killed 20 suspected terrorists and wounded 12 in ongoing operations in Sinai.

Egyptian security forces carried out raids in el-Arish, Rafah, and Sheikh Zuwaid and arrested 78 suspects, the Egyptian website Aswat Masriya reported.

Helicopters bombed suspected terrorist hideouts where weapons were stored, said an army statement, which also claimed that engineers detonated 51 explosive devices.

Meanwhile, as Egypt cracks down on its Islamist dissidents, many of the country’s lawyers are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law as well. Attorney Mohsen al-Bahnasy said that so many fellow lawyers were arrested or charged in recent months that he now spends much of his time defending them in court.

One of the lawyers he represents is accused of distributing leaflets supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group banned by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. According to Bahnasy, his client, a lawyer, was in a police station with his own clients at the time of the alleged crime. Bahnasy says the lawyer, like others deemed sympathetic to the Brotherhood, has never distributed such leaflets and is the victim of trumped-up charges.

An official in the police station said that the accused lawyer had supported several Brotherhood protests. “It is not logical that we would accuse him of inciting protests” if he had not done so, the official said.

In all, more than 200 lawyers are behind bars in Egypt for defending the government’s Islamist opponents, according to attorneys and human rights groups. They say the number of arrests is far higher than during the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who imposed an emergency law allowing individuals to be imprisoned for any length of time.

Even under Mubarak, lawyers rarely faced jail time and were free to defend Mubarak’s fiercest opponents, attorneys say.

A senior Ministry of Justice official confirmed that a large number of lawyers are being held on charges connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. He said the number is “probably up to 10 times” the number held under Mubarak: “They are locked up in accordance with the law

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