Judge Ahmed El-Zend (Photo: Al-Ahram)
At a Sunday meeting with members of Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the Egyptian Judges Club announced its decision to join a planned 'justice conference' to be held within the context of an ongoing dispute between Egypt's judiciary on one side and Muslim Brotherhood MPs and the presidency on the other.
A controversial judicial authority law recently proposed in the upper house of Egypt's parliament by MPs allied with the Muslim Brotherhood was met with sharp criticism by many judges and openly opposed by the Judges Club. The bill, if passed, would lead to the retirement of a quarter of Egypt's judges, a move many judicial officials perceive as a frontal assault on Egypt's judiciary.
Proponents of the bill believe it is necessary to "purge" the judiciary of "corrupt" judges, many of whom were appointed under the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
On Sunday, Judge Mohamed Metwali, head of both Egypt's Court of Cassation and the SJC, met with Ahmed El-Zend, Judges Club head and vocal opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website, both expressed the importance of holding the conference in order to meet the challenges currently facing Egypt's judiciary.
The Judges Club has set conditions for taking part in the conference, however, chief among which is that parliament's upper house – currently endowed with legislative powers – not be allowed to legislate judicial laws, which, club members assert, only concern judges.
The Judges Club also sees current political tensions – between the judicial, executive and legislative branches of government – as good reason for giving judges the final say in all legislation regulating the judiciary. The club has also requested that no representatives of either the government or presidency take part in the planned conference.