Gridlock continues

Nader Fergani , Wednesday 13 Feb 2013

Two years after the revolution, the political Islamist regime maintains limited freedoms and rights against the will of the people so as not to lose its present powers

Contrary to the president’s promise, the constitution was written without consensus and at suspicious speed, followed by a referendum subjected to religious intimidation, manipulation and bribery that is customary for this current.

The constitution, essentially, denies civil and political rights to non-Muslims, and even among Muslims it discriminates against non-Sunnis and imposes Sunni canons on them. It also implicitly denies women and labour rights, and is especially inimical to the rights of freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful protests and strikes.

As a reward for enabling the rise of political Islam, the draft constitution put military leaders above the state and representatives of the people. They have Ali Al-Selmi to thank for this, since he introduced this repugnant feature in his document drafted when he was deputy prime minister in Essam Sharaf’s second government. This is evidence that regime advisers and its entourage pose an even graver danger to the people and nation than those in power.

Also, part of the picture is hostility towards the judiciary because constitutional declarations and the constitution undermine the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. On 22 November, the president announced his immunity by protecting his earlier and later decisions from judicial review, although Islam tells us that no one is infallible after the last messenger who was guided by divine revelation.

The authors of the constitution tailored a special clause to dismiss some judges in the High Constitutional Court, giving the head of the executive power the right to appoint them. Authoritarian rule always undermines the power of the law and restricts independence of the judiciary, which are key foundations for a modern civil state.

Meanwhile, we will never forgive Islamist rule for making some of Egypt’s best jurists succumb and pave the way for the rule of political Islam and supporting it when it came to power. It thus destroyed the prestige and respect for them in the hearts of Egypt’s elite, which they had spent a lifetime and commendable effort to accumulate.

But, unfortunately, every despotic era creates its own “law tailors” who embellish tyranny, even if in the past they were staunch defenders of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.

Also weighing into this situation is the dismissal of the prosecutor general and appointing his replacement by the president. I myself wrote articles criticising the former prosecutor general because of flaws in closing cases that resulted in impunity for those who killed revolutionaries and ruined the country. But apparently, many of the shortcomings of the general prosecution and judiciary in pursuing retribution for protestors and penalising corruption were caused by corruption at civilian and military security agencies, and other state bodies, that concealed or destroyed evidence that the prosecution needed to seal these cases in court.

The executive power is also tainted with complicity in concealing evidence from the judiciary. Meanwhile, the new prosecutor general has not made any serious attempt to exact retribution for the martyrs of the revolution or punish those who destroyed political life before and after the revolution.

Instead, prosecution efforts under his tutelage are focused on reconciling with criminals of the ousted regime, and it seems that the Islamist regime and its prosecutor general are determined to allow these criminals to evade punishment for reasons only they know. Perhaps they expect to receive morsels of the money that was pilfered from the sweat and blood of the people.

What is certain is that the loyalty of any prosecutor general appointed by the head of the executive power alone would never be to the people, but to the president who hires and fires him.

Putting the High Constitutional Court under siege is also a crime by Islamist mobs with their banal chants, such as “Give us a sign and we would bring them to you in a sack.” This is not in defence of the judges at the High Constitutional Court, but the sovereignty of law and independence of the judiciary that the head of the executive power swore many times to respect.

It is not enough that the head of the Freedom and Justice Party called on the mobs surrounding the High Constitutional Court to maintain a peaceful protest. Who sent them there in the first place, since they are trained to be blindly obedient? And why did security forces allow them to assemble there, while barbed wire was placed around the presidential palace in the face of revolutionaries during the last million-man protest of “Warning” on 4 December?

The same siege happened by Islamist mobs outside Media City, to terrorise media personalities and scare them in a way that can only be seen as an attempt to restrict freedom of opinion and expression.

The tattered state of affairs in the hands of Islamist rule, between an undemocratic regime and its mob on the one hand, and the elite on the other, is a bad omen for this tyrannical regime — just like all the catastrophes that occurred during its short tenure.

We should ask whether the president, his group and other factions of political Islam who — rightly or wrongly — support him are glad to tear the people apart while they sit in the presidential palace surrounded with barbed wire and elite armed forces. Meanwhile, their headquarters are set ablaze, presidential advisers are resigning one after the next, and protestors picket the presidential palace, the Cabinet, Muslim Brotherhood offices and the television building. They do not hesitate in sending their mobs to face off with the people, whom they once claimed would always have access to them.

The Islamist president himself provided evidence of breaching his electoral promise that he would be a president for all Egyptians when mobs of Islamists surrounded the presidential palace and no one stopped them. He even came out to address them as “dear ones”, while security forces laid down barbed wire barricades transforming the presidential palace into a war barracks in the face of those opposing the rule of political Islam.

Then the president stealthily fled from the back door, and thus Mohamed Morsi earned himself the title “the president who surreptitiously left through the back door under heavy guard.”

He did the same thing at a mosque he was praying in on Friday, 30 November, and then during the battle for Itihadiya Palace on 5 December.

“Leave, leave” is once again being chanted in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace in Morsi’s face. Just as the ousted president was not blessed, if the incumbent continues these policies he will not take the country to safe shores.

In conclusion, we hope that amid the second anniversary of the revolution the president and his people are unhappy their rule is smeared with the blood of demonstrators just so they can stay in power. It is the same as the ousted tyrant and authoritarian military rule had done.

Islamist rule even prompted a young Islamist Cabinet member — who should have conducted himself better — to declare: “Either Morsi or chaos.”

This was a distinct feature of the last days of Hosni Mubarak's regime, and his not an unlikely end for all those who assisted in extending the gridlock.

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