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Rape of the judiciary

Youssef Sidhom

07 Dec 2012 1:38 pm

President Mursi is still relentless in his assault against Egypt’s judiciary. He took not a single step towards correcting the Constitutional Declaration he issued on 22 November

, and through which he usurped judicial independence. All he has done so far was to brag about his so-called full respect for judicial authority and his insistence that the judiciary should remain independent. But his words carry no credence, for the very obvious reason that the Constitutional Declaration has placed him in the unenviable position of splitting the national front and bringing Egypt to the verge of civil war. Half of Egypt’s population today insist that the Constitutional Declaration should be annulled, while the other half applaud it and insist it should go on.
The President claims that 90 per cent of Egyptians support him, but he offers no tangible evidence of that. He officially received a document of the draft constitution from the Constituent Assembly that wrote it, and hastily called for a public referendum on the document on Saturday 15 December. Does this imply that President Mursi and his regime have prepared themselves for the referendum? Who will monitor the balloting? The judiciary, insulted and pained, have announced through their Judges Club—their syndicate body—that they will not monitor any elections or referenda. The Supreme Judges Council, the State-affiliated judicial body, said it would delegate staff from the administrative prosecution to monitor the referendum. 
There is the argument, of course, that it is not in the interest of the judiciary to boycott the monitoring process since, once the constitution is approved, the Constitutional Declaration should become ineffective, meaning that the judiciary would regain its usurped legitimacy and authority. There is the other argument, however, that the judiciary have been subjected to unprecedented violations of which it is not easy to recover. Even though the lightening blow came at the hands of President Mursi’s Constitutional Declaration, it was followed by attacks, harassment, and terrorist acts by Mursi’s supporters against the judiciary. The Egyptian judicial authority became fair game for the unruly mob, as the executive authority looked on. The judges were abused and intimidated, they were accused of passing political judgements, and threatened in case they pass rulings contrary to the desire of the mob. Ultimately, a wild mob blockaded the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) last Sunday and prevented the judges from accessing it so that no verdict may be pronounced on the constitutionality of the elections that brought in the Shura (Consultative) Council—the upper house of Egypt’s parliament—and the Constituent Assembly.
This disgraceful scene brought home to Egypt and the entire world the disastrous methods used by the Mursi regime to advance its policies and impose the status quo as a fait accompli. No security forces whatsoever were present on the scene to maintain order or secure passage to the judges to reach the courthouse. The crowds were allowed to blockade the court with no resistance whatsoever from security forces, as though there were some scheme by the ruling authority and its supporters to ban the court from issuing any ruling on the legality of the Shura Council or the Constituent Assembly. The bitter comparison between the Sunday chaos and the tight discipline and security enforced last June when Mursi headed to the SCC to take the presidential oath escaped no one’s attention. 
Egypt in its entirety stands to pay a hefty price for the harsh assault against the judiciary, their dignity and esteem, a price that will translate into a shaky balance of justice.  
The wise persons in this nation have repeatedly warned that the collapse of the judicial authority would inevitably lead to the fall of the pillars of the Egyptian society. Did President Mursi and his supporters take that into account?
Egypt on the verge of civil war
As though it were not enough that the judiciary had been physically and morally harassed, Egyptians found themselves last week driven to the verge of civil war. Some 10 ten their lives and hundreds were injured. It is heartbreaking that President Mursi, who bragged so much about defending the rights of those who had lost their lives in the 2011 Revolution, has himself through poor judgement joined the ranks of those who increased the numbers of the victims.
Will President Mursi heed the fact that even his aides and advisors are leaving him? Or will he persist in committing the error the former president Mubarak did when he took his time to respond to the demands of the masses, which drove them to raise the ceiling of their demands?   
WATANI International
7 December 2012


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