Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and several high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood stood trial last week in a soundproof glass cage on charges of orchestrating a prison break, according to the Los Angeles Times. Though many have slammed the installation of the soundproof chamber as a violation of the former president’s freedom of speech, such a device was ultimately necessary to maintain order and discipline within the courtroom.
Morsi, who has been in jail since he was ousted during a military coup in July, faces four separate court trials on a number of charges, including inciting supporters to commit violence and murder, conspiring with foreign organizations including Hamas and Hezbollah to commit terrorist acts, orchestrating a prison break and insulting the judiciary, according to BBC News.
The utilization of the soundproof cage came as a result of many instances of the former president refusing to comply with courtroom procedures. During his first trial appearance in November, Morsi refused to wear the traditional white prison jumpsuit and proceeded to interrupt the trial by questioning the authority of the judge in open court and shouting that he was the democratically elected president of Egypt and the victim of a coup.
“I am the legitimate president of the country, and this trial is not legal,” Morsi said in court last week, according to NPR.
Though Morsi’s lawyers argue that the installation of the soundproof chamber deprives the accused of their right to hear or participate in their own trial, such measures were ultimately necessary to ensure the trial go smoothly in the first place. Given the interruptive and chaotic behavior of Morsi and his fellow defendants in a previous trial, the implementation of the soundproof barrier was necessary prevent further chaotic disruptions during the second trial. Moreover, Morsi and his fellow defendants were able to hear everything happening in the courtroom, and the judge allowed them to speak by turning on their microphones when necessary and required.
Some civil rights advocates consider the charges against Morsi to be groundless. Yet, even if that were the case, it does Morsi and his fellow defendants no favors to consistently obstruct and delegitimize the serious accusations filed against them. The fact of the matter is that the soundproof cage would not have been necessary during the trial in the first place had they focused on proving the charges against them as invalid rather than resorting to pandemonium. By enabling the defendants to listen and take part in their own trial while also preventing them from interrupting the proceedings, the court is ultimately ensuring that these proceedings take place at all.
As chaos in Egypt continues, it’s time that both Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood take the steps to move away from the mindset that they deserve to be in power when the fact of the matter is that the majority of the Egyptian people supported their removal. Rather than continue to defy the legal system and insist on their leadership, it’s time they face the charges against them.
Yasmeen Kamel is a freshman majoring in business administration.