Egypt's Morsi at Court: 'I Am the Legitimate President'

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Chaos erupted in an Egyptian courtroom Monday as the trial of the country's first democratically elected president got underway.

Security in capital city Cairo has also tightened as former President Mohammed Morsi faces charges of inciting violence.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the famous Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo became the epicenter for tens of thousands of Egyptians calling for the removal of then President Hosni Mubarak.

This week, the trial of Morsi and 14 top lieutenants in the Muslim Brotherhood became another dramatic turn in the history of this nation.

Egyptians saw Morsi for the first time since his removal four months ago. He struck a defiant tone the moment he entered the courtroom.

"I am the legitimate president of the republic," he told the judge in a loud voice, "I am here against my will."

Morsi refused to wear a prison uniform. Instead, he wore a dark suit. Defense Attorney Ahmed Hashem argued for his client, stating Morsi was the head of this court.

"He refuses to wear the defendants' clothes because he is not a defendant," Hashem said.

Morsi and 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members are charged with inciting murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

The trial fueled anger and protests across the capital city.

"This is a show trial. We are telling the judges of Egypt not to take part in this trial," Gamal Shalaby, a Morsi supporter, said.

Morsi was Egypt's first democratically elected Islamist president. But after just one year, the country's powerful army removed him from office.

Ishaq Ibrahim, with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Right, defended the moves against Morsi.

"The Muslim Brotherhood failed to come up with any good political or economic solutions and instead focused on trying to turn the society more conservative, more Islamic, and people didn't want this," Ibrahim said.

Since the military takeover, authorities have thrown thousands of Brotherhood members in jail. Hundreds of pro-Morsi protesters have been killed.

Now there's growing concern among some that Egypt is turning into a military dictatorship.

"The political direction of our country is turning more military," a Muslim Brotherhood supporter named Ahmad said. "As long as the army is ruling Egypt, the current president does not represent us."

Meanwhile, some 20,000 security forces are on the streets to prevent any potential unrest. Following today's courtroom chaos, the judge adjourned twice. In the end, the trial was postponed until January.

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

CBN News is a national/international, nonprofit news organization that provides programming 24 hours a day by cable, satellite and the Internet.