In defence of ordinary justice

Abdel-Moneim Said , Sunday 13 Mar 2011

Calls for swift justice are contrary to the principles for which the Egyptian Revolution was fought

The value of a revolution is measured by how far it can distance itself from the regime it overthrew. Democratic revolutions that usher in democratic regimes carry the heavier burden of applying the values, traditions and ethics of democracy, which are prevalent in other societies that have already gone down this path.

Over the past three decades, all political forces — whether within or outside the political system, and especially the liberals — upheld the belief that the “accused”, irrespective of whom it is, should be tried in front of an ordinary judge. Accordingly, in an article in Al-Ahram I condemned the practice of having Muslim Brotherhood members (despite our vastly diverging opinions and outlooks) stand trial before military tribunals or any other extraordinary State Security court and the like.

This issue has once again become pertinent in light of the democratic 25 January Revolution, for three reasons.

First, pressure is mounting on prosecutors to try and convict even quicker. Second, public opinion is being mobilised not against corruption, which is a legitimate target, but against specific persons whereby assuming them innocent — which is their legal right — becomes impossible. Third, there is the call for “temporary” courts, which is another way of saying extraordinary, emergency or military courts, to judge those accused of corruption. This would open the doors to an inquisition and lawlessness.

For those who don’t know, the sovereignty of law means no one is above the law, irrespective of their wealth, position or power, and that the accused is innocent until proven guilty by an ordinary — not extraordinary — judge. Anyone who wants to see an inquisition under the revolution is either an imposter on the revolution, or that the name “democratic revolution” is a forgery and a lie.

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