President Hosni Mubarak delivered a speech today at the High Court, celebrating the country’s first Judges' Day.
“From this amazing building, I ask Egypt’s judges to give justice the importance and care it needs,” Mubarak said in a 10-minute speech before a courthouse full of judges. “We all work for the people of Egypt, everyone according to their place and responsibility, and this is the judges' place and justice is your responsibility.”
Mubarak added that his participation in the event is proof of his appreciation of Egypt’s judicial system.
“I congratulate the judges and I tell them that I appreciate their role and the message of justice that they bring,” he said.
Mubarak spoke of the rich history of Egypt's judiciary, including the 2006 amendments to the constitution which insured greater judiciary independence “and put the law in the hands of the judges.”
The president added that the judges are an important tool in fighting rising terrorism and extremism in the country.
“For Egypt’s judges, everyone is equal, whether they are rich or poor, weak or strong…Muslim or Copt.”
The president also hailed the judiciary for “rising above involvement in the (country's) political life.”
Mubarak insisted that Egypt’s judicial system will never be subject to either the security forces or the media, and stressed the importance of bringing quick justice to Egyptians, so as to preserve the rights of every person.
“We work to bring justice because we believe that a slow system of justice creates a feeling of frustration among citizens,” said the president.
However, not everyone is convinced by Mubarak's praises of the judges, especially Mahmoud El-Khodeiry, former vice-chairman of the Court of Cassation, who resigned in 2009 in protest of the deterioration of country's judicial system.
"What the president said in his speech is beautiful, but does not reflect – and in fact contradicts – reality," El-Khodeiry told Ahram Online. "The biggest problem is the lack of respect for the judicial rulings, which in my opinion is a dangerous phenomenon that will affect Egypt's safety and stability."
El-Khodeiry pointed out that in Western democracies the judicial rulings are respected by everyone in the country, including those in higher office. However, in Egypt it is the government itself which ignores the rulings. He added that the new Judges' Day is nothing more than a superficial facade aimed to cover a far more disturbing reality.
"The problem in Egypt is that our whole life is based on superficial acts," said El-Khodeiry. "We don't need an official Judges' Day – just respect my rulings and, as a judge, that will make my day every day."
In the spring of 2006, Cairo's streets erupted with confrontations between judges and police, as reformist judges rallied against what they perceived as governmental interventions in the judicial process. The judges' move triggered mass demonstrations among political groups of different leaning, ending in the arrests of more than 1,000 protesters.