An Egyptian court has sentenced 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death.
The judge in the central city of Minya took only two court sessions to issue the death sentences, and lawyers for the defence had no opportunity to argue their case.
In the summer of 2013, hundreds of thousands of Brotherhood supporters took the streets in protest at the army’s coup against the government of Mohamed Morsi.
The military brutally suppressed these demonstrations and declared the Islamist organisation illegal.
In Cairo, over 900 protesters were killed as the state dispersed a pro-Morsi sit in. It was during that confrontation that the 529 defendants were arrested.
Their death sentences are punishment for the alleged murder of a single police officer. A further 683 Brotherhood supporters will be brought before the court this week.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a reactionary, right-wing religious organisation which deserves the hostility and opposition of all socialists, working-class activists and democrats. But this mass death sentence is a barbarous repressive measure, the act of an undemocratic military government.
It is part of a general repression against dissent and organised opposition in which human rights groups estimate 23,000 political activists have been arrested.
This repression will be used against democratic and labour movement activists too.