Egypt's former President Morsi, deposed in a July coup and now in the dock along with fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood, refused to recognize the court's authority.
Essam el-Erian became just the latest Muslim Brotherhood to be arrested since the military overthrow the group's president in July. A court showdown is looming for next week.
Both sides in Egypt's violent struggle to restart democracy have evoked Islamic edicts. Yet a democracy based on liberty of conscience requires a separation of mosque and state.