Friday, April 24, 2015

The partisanship of Egypt's judiciary

Abdel Sattar Qassem 


. Egypt could serve itself through the efforts of its people rather than the foreign economic and financial aid it receives, which usually has strings attached or is a basis for the violation of Egypt's sovereignty

In every country in the world, the judiciary is the source of justice and it delivers justice to the oppressed, or so it should be. The judiciary is the entity that should reassure people, regardless of their affiliations, that the law is applied to everyone without exception and should serve as a shining example of a state's morality and its commitment to create stability and civil peace.

It is a sign of civilisation and a barometer for a state's respect for humans and the preservation of their rights. The more the judiciary upholds justice, the higher the state is seen on the ladder of civilisation, and the higher the state is, the more their people develop and grow, gaining the strength to go higher on the ladder of affiliation, work and production.
A state gains strength from the strength of its people and whenever the judiciary declines, the people lose their confidence in their institutions and are aware that their rights are being lost under the feet of the more powerful. It is at that point that people's morals and ethics decline, their affiliation and loyalty decreases, and disputes and conflicts arise, threatening civil peace. Any ruler that does not watch over the fairness of the judiciary is neglecting the future of the state and its higher interests, thus putting the people in serious confrontations that lead to the undermining of the state's foundations.
We used to hear about the Egyptian judiciary, its integrity, neutrality and independence and we - through it - would be the Arab nucleus that would achieve justice for the oppressed Arab citizen. We had never looked into the details of the cases this judiciary dealt with, but the legends about the integrity of judges and their expertise and objectivity in considering the issues fascinated listeners. It was so nice to hear positive stories about an Arab judicial institution, but this beauty did not stand up to the practical tests that the Egyptian judiciary faced after the political developments that occurred in Egypt.
Anyone who has followed the rulings of the Egyptian judiciary in recent times cannot believe the legends and myths of the past. They find that they were just stories misguided by the media and political statements about the impartiality of the judiciary.
It was shocking that the Egyptian judiciary referred the cases of thousands of Egyptians to the state Mufti to approve their death sentences. The Egyptian judiciary is issuing mass death sentences without sufficiently investigating the charges against them, and their cases are quickly closed to move on to new cases awaiting similar death sentences.
Trials are a process and there are many complicated judicial measures. It is usually expected for underdeveloped countries to prolong the investigation into cases presented before the court so much that many cases are terminated and those involved are in despair and regret looking for a judicial solution for their problems.
The process of trials and the complex procedural issues have easily and quickly been overcome by Egypt's judiciary, as it seems that the judges are only concerned with issuing rulings that are consistent with predispositions they may have had in the past, those forced upon them by politicians, or those formed for them by the Egyptian media.
Sometimes one wonders if the Egyptian judges have thought about the consequences of their quickly issued rulings on the Egyptian civil peace and Egyptian national interests. Have they thought about their current life and afterlife? Did they consider the possibility of acts of revenge and punishment on Judgement Day? Did they think about the consequences of being unjust to the people and the desire for revenge, murder and destruction it generates? It seems that the vow taken by the judges was not enough to convince enough for them, as they decided to give into to their whims and misguidances.
The Egyptians hurt themselves in the beginning when they overthrew their elected president and they decided that the movements of other leaders were more legitimate and disciplined. They looked into the accusations directed against Morsi in order to justify his arrest and his exclusion from the political scene. The most bizarre accusation against Morsi was that he opened the doors of a prison, which held political prisoners with the help and cooperation of foreign parties, including Hamas. However, the revolution was supposed to change the situation in the country, including the prohibition of political arrests.
It was the duty of Morsi and all those who supported the Egyptian revolution to release all political prisoners who were accused by Mubarak of being a threat to Egypt's security. So, in actuality, Morsi and those who assisted him should be thanked for releasing the Egyptian prisoners. It is also strange that the Egyptian media and political circles accused Morsi of conspiring with Hamas, even though it is a Palestinian resistance movement that has done a great job confronting Israel in defence of Palestine, its people, and Egypt's national security. How can they talk about conspiracy when they are the ones conspiring with Israel? Those who betray the Arabs by conspiring with Israel have no right to talk about betrayal and spying. Also, was Hamas waiting for information from Morsi in order to occupy Egypt? That is ridiculous.
In addition to this, Morsi is symbolic in Egyptian history because he is the first ever elected president in Egypt. Morsi made a number of mistakes and many intellectuals and thinkers warned him about this, but he did not listen to any of them. However, these mistakes do not justify this historical mistake nor does it justify the overthrowing of a democratically elected president while we, in the Arab world, are falsely claiming to be democratic. The Egyptians ruined a symbolic achievement that would have gone down in history and they confirmed that the Arabs do not understand democracy nor can they practice it or respect its principles. Egypt has now joined Algeria, Palestine, Sudan, Mauritania and Iraq in the group of countries who went against those who were directly elected by the people.
The Egyptian judiciary recently sentenced Morsi to 20 years in prison. This is a shame and disgrace that affects all of the Arabs. Developed nations monitor their leaders and put them on fair trails if they commit crimes, not if they make mistakes. Some countries are even content with removing a president from office if they are convicted, but do not put them in prison.
According to the developments in the Egyptian political arena, it is clear that the trials of Muslim Brotherhood members are all political, not judicial. It is also clear that the political circles are the judge and jury and that the judges are nothing more than tools in the hands of the politicians, which is also the case in other Arab countries. The politicians hire judges and the media brainwashes them. Trials are supposed to be held far from the media and politics in order to ensure that the judiciary does not give into selfish interests that could be achieved through the political level.
It is ironic today that Mubarak was found innocent despite the fact that the Egyptian people revolted against him and accused him of numerous crimes, including the murder of innocent people. Mubarak served for many years and he worked to sabotage Egypt's economy, revived classism in Egypt as well as economic and financial monopoly. He also did not hesitate to suppress his political opponents, monopolise the media and restrict media outlets who opposed him.
Mubarak did not properly distribute the country's wealth, he weakened Egypt's status in the Arab and international arenas, and he directly cooperated with Israel against the Palestinian and Lebanese resistances. He also worked with the US, which takes every opportunity to harm the Arabs. Despite all of the sins committed by Mubarak against Egypt, he came out of the trial innocent and unscathed, while Morsi ruled for a very short time and came out with a 20-year prison sentence.
I did not agree with Morsi and I was affiliated with no particular party; I was only affiliated with the greater Arab nation. I constantly commented on Morsi's mistakes, but I am not willing to ignore ethics in favour of achieving political goals. The neglect of ethics in Egypt has become common and is especially rampant in political and media circles.
Perhaps the unfair rulings may make some people feel better, which is the case in all countries of the world. There are influential figures and rulers who give in to revenge and cannot rest until they have their revenge against their political opponents. However, revenge was never a practical administrative principle that led to cohesion and unity amongst the people. Only the foolish govern their states with a vengeful spirit, while the clever adopt the approach of reconciliation, tolerance and unity. There are some in Egypt who are pleased with these rulings, but we hope they do not discuss terrorism in the media.
Injustice is the number one source of terrorism, and had the Arab regimes not severely oppressed their people, shattered their hopes and dreams, and used them like animals to serve their arrogance, then the revolutions would not have occurred. Oppression and injustice generate an explosion that it saturated with elements that fuel hatred, grudges and vendettas. Those who want to live peacefully and comfortably should not oppress people or rob them of their rights and comfort.
Many Arabs warned the new government in Egypt about the danger of injustice and they said that the actions of this government would lead to violent acts that will claim the lives of Egyptian soldiers and civilians. Many foresaw the military actions in Sinai and the various other Egyptian governorates because the actions of the government were provoking extremism against it and it had made enough enemies to form a large force inside Egypt.
There is a clear official position in Egypt opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, which make up a large chunk of the masses all across the country. Did anyone expect the Brotherhood to remain silent in the face of the measures taken against them and rulings made against them? I do not believe that anyone with even a little bit of intelligence expected them to remain silent. Such rulings lead to escalations within Egypt. Who is the terrorist in this case? Those who defend themselves against oppression or those who began with the oppression?
Egypt is an economically weak country and its people have always suffered from poverty, ignorance, disease and scarceness. It is a country in need of national unity and reassurance. This requires all Egyptians to make an effort to work hard to improve the economic situation of the country, and therefore the efforts towards unity must prevail over the efforts of revenge.
The Egyptian people suffered much sorrow and pain and the political circles do not have the right to commit acts of injustice, thus intensifying the plight of the people. Egypt could serve itself through the efforts of its people rather than the foreign economic and financial aid it receives, which usually has strings attached or is a basis for the violation of Egypt's sovereignty. The people of Egypt need wise leaders that consider all matters and think before speaking and repeatedly look under their feet before taking any step. They must fear God in their dealings with the Egyptian people as they already have enough on their plates.
Translated from Al-Jazeera, 22 April 2015.

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