Safwat Hegazi, Body Double?

Safwat Hegazi (R, L?)

Safwat Hegazi (R, L?)

In late August and early September I published an article and two other posts about Safwat Hegazi, one of the more controversial Islamist supporters of Mohamed Morsi.

The article collected links and information about his often inflammatory speeches and public statements, calling him a Bellwether of Egyptian Islamism.

The second linked to a full article describing an interview conducted by Arab West Report at the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest site. In it he comes across as very reasonable, denying any membership in the Muslim Brotherhood.

And the third was a link to a very surprising video confession by Hegazi about his regretful association with these protests, sad to see them provoking bloodshed. That post expressed a bit of shock leading to the title, Safwat Hegazi, Stool Pigeon?

Several weeks later in a conversation with a Salafi friend, we discussed Hegazi. ‘That video,’ he said confidently, ‘was faked. Hegazi might be dead or he might be in custody, but that video looked nothing like him.’

It made me recall my initial surprise, both in his confession and appearance.

Hegazi’s trial has now begun, in which he declared the released photos were fake:

Egyptian hardline Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy said Saturday during his ongoing trial that photos of him following his arrest released by Egypt’s Interior Ministry were fabricated, according to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party website.

Hegazy, who appeared in court on Saturday along with FJP leader Mohamed El-Beltagy – both charged with inciting violence – reportedly said photos released online by the ministry upon his arrest in August were fake.

The photos showed him with a shaved beard and only a dyed-black goatee. Hegazy stated that he never shaved his beard prior to his arrest.

The allegedly fabricated photos of Hegazy stirred public confusion following their release over the significant changes in his appearance since his detainment. It was widely believed that he had changed his appearance to avoid detection.

Hegazy appeared in photos of Saturday’s court session with his trademark white beard.

The confusion continues. Were the released videos and pictures real, an attempt at character assassination, or irrelevant either because of his overall innocence or outstanding guilt?

But there is another twist besides:

Judges of Cairo Criminal Court recused themselves Saturday from the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leading figure Mohamed El-Beltagy and Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy, saying it has felt unease over the case.

No further explanation was given. Was the unease due to an obvious miscarriage of justice, or fear of Islamist supporters if they carried out justice?Or, was it simply from an inability to conduct the trial, as in this related case:

A second panel of judges has withdrawn from the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of inciting the killing of protesters.

The defendants refused to recognise the court, dubbed it “void” and “illegitimate,” and chanted “down with the military rule.”

The judges said they were unable to conduct the trial properly.

Like many questions of the revolution, we will have to wait and see, but waiting often takes a long time…

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