(dpa) - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Muslim Brotherhood students from different Egyptian universities took to the streets Wednesday to call for the release of 25 of the group's members who were sentenced to jail on Tuesday.
The outlawed group's third-in-command Khairat al-Shater and senior leader Hosny Malek, were among those sentenced by a military tribunal on charges of belonging to a banned group.
Students from various universities across the country staged protests on Wednesday, carrying banners condemning the court ruling.
A student representative of Al-Azhar University told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that some 2,000 students had participated in the demonstration on Wednesday.
Some university professors also joined the protests, stressing in a press conference that the court ruling would not stop the Muslim Brothers from achieving their peaceful goals and carrying out reform.
The Supreme Military Court in Hykestep, several kilometres north- east of Cairo, on Tuesday sentenced al-Shater and Malek to seven years in prison.
Thirteen Muslim Brotherhood members were sentenced to three years, while five were given five-year prison terms.
Another five members were sentenced in absentia to five years in jail. Meanwhile, 15 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were found innocent.
The high-profile Muslim Brotherhood members are civilians but were tried in a military court on charges of money laundering, belonging to and financing a banned group "that uses terrorism to achieve its ends," as well as disrupting public peace and endangering civil liberties.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that has "Islam is the Solution" as its political motto, is always at loggerheads with Egypt's ruling party.
The group, popular at grassroots level, has succeeded in gaining 88 seats in parliament through fielding candidates as "independents."
Although illegal, the group forms the strongest opposition to the Egyptian government and is active across several provinces.