A senior official of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has told the Cairo Criminal Court that the movement has every respect for the armed forces, and its dispute is with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Mohamed El-Beltagy said that militant factions are wreaking havoc in Sinai because they believe that the current regime has no legitimacy.
El-Beltagy is on trial in a case — known as the Bahr Al-Aazam case — in which he and his co-defendants are accused of membership of a terrorist group, attempted murder, forming an armed gang to attack citizens and resist the authorities, possessing firearms and ammunition without a licence and other charges.
This is not the only trial that he is facing. Since the 2013 ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi, El-Beltagy and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members have found themselves accused, tried and convicted in a string of court cases that have been widely slammed for being politicised.
He made his comments when a video was presented as evidence in court. It showed him at the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square sit-in, stressing that terrorist acts would stop only with the reinstatement of the ousted president.
"This video clip," he told the court, "was political and did not incite violence…We hold every respect for our armed forces; our dispute is with Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi."
Describing the current court cases that Brotherhood members are involved in as "shocking", El-Beltagy added that the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser tried his opponents in popular tribunals, and Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled by the 2011 revolution, tried his opponents in military courts.
He addressed the chair of the court, Counsellor Hussein Kandil, and pointed out that the same judge ruled in the Ittihadiya trial, another case in which El-Beltagy was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
El-Beltagy maintains that he is innocent and did not deserve such a sentence.