Problems on hold
It was no coincidence that Watani should print on its front page last Sunday news about the sentencing of the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to death. In 2013, a bomb planted by Tsarnaev and his brother claimed the lives of three persons and injured some 260 who were taking part in the Boston Marathon. Today, Watani focuses on how the world reacted to the death sentence issued by the US court.
The Tsarnaev death sentence raises two concerns. First, it inflicts fair retribution on a criminal who committed a horrendous crime that shook the world’s conscience. Second, the sentence came at a time when the western world was busy waging harsh criticism at Egypt and her judiciary for the death sentences issued by an Egyptian court against criminal terrorists who committed crimes no less, if not much worse in ferocity and scale than the Boston Marathon bombing.
Before embarking on an analysis of the US death sentence and attendant repercussions, let me point out that I do not stand to defend the death penalty nor do I argue whether or not it should be upheld on the Egyptian penal law, this is an issue which concerns the lawmakers and the legal experts. My personal preference is for the death penalty to be totally abolished since it involves the killing of a human soul. Until such a day comes I fully trust the Egyptian judiciary to resort to the death penalty, stipulated by the law, only after the judges are fully confident of the necessity and fairness of this sentence.
I go into the repercussions of the Tsarnaev death sentence to highlight the flagrant contradiction in international opinion vis-à-vis the penalty issued by a US court and the same penalty issued by an Egyptian court. The double standards applied by the West cannot be too obvious. The death sentences issued by Egyptian courts generated an outcry by western States, governments, rights organisations and the western media. They condemned the court rulings as ‘unjust’, expressed horror at their ‘cruelty’, and accused the court that issued them as being ‘politicised’. The death sentence issued by the US court generated very different repercussions; the tone of outrage and condemnation was almost inaudible, the lamentation for the ‘loss of human life’ non-existent. No one dared affront the American judiciary; not a soul dreamt of accusing it of bowing to political pressure.
Neither the spokesperson of the White House nor that of the US State Department denounced, condemned, or expressed concern at the death sentence. The German Foreign Affairs Minister did not decry the sentence or demand that the US government should review the unjust penalty used against political opponents. The Speaker of the German parliament did not vocally accuse the American judiciary of bowing down to political pressure, or refuse to meet President Barack Obama should he decide to visit Germany.
The EU Parliament did not convene a stormy session to condemn the death penalty and accuse the US judiciary of cruelty and backwardness for holding on to laws that endorse the death penalty.
Human rights organisations did not cry out against the usurped rights of the defendant in the Boston Marathon case, or point accusing fingers at the American judiciary for inhumanly hastening to issue the death penalty.
Human rights organisations did not cry out against the usurped rights of the defendant in the Boston Marathon case, or point accusing fingers at the American judiciary for hastening to issue the death penalty without any consideration for human life.
No stories appeared in the western media accusing the American judiciary of being a political tool. Nor was there advice to the US government for reconciliation and negotiation with the defendant and the opposition movement to which he belongs, recommending that they should be integrated in the national political arena instead of being pursued and sentenced to death.
Neither Ankara nor Doha nor any other soft-hearted human rights, justice or democracy mainstay wailed or cried their hearts out at the expected execution of the terrorist who planted a bomb in the Boston Marathon.
In face of the bitter irony of the entire situation I say: Don’t grieve, Egypt, at the West’s double standards; don’t feel sorry for yourself for not being the US. Raise your head high and don’t let the vicious arrows shot at you divert you from the path you have chosen to tread.
5 July 2015