- November 1, 2006
- 32 minutes read
Abu Al-Majd: Egypt Suffers Full-Fledged Oppression
The deputy of the head of the National Council for Human Rights Dr. Ahmad Kamal Abu Al-Majd denied any relation between the Experts of Constitutional reformist committee report in the council and the National Democratic Party concerning the suggested constitutional reformations.
He averred that the committee includes several prominent figures in the field of constitutional law and they are known for their integrity, besides the committee included other two members not belonging to the council like Dr. Yehia Al-Gamal and Dr. Atif Al-Banna and they are supposed to be opposing figures.
Dr. Kamal Abu AlMajd has tackled in an interview with Al-Masri Al-Youm several issues related to human rights in Egypt, where he said that there are great oppression in Egypt; a clear one that no body dares to deny.
He pointed that the National Council is not an executive one, but it provides government with recommendations in order to be brought into effect. He added that when the council started working, it recommended ending up the state of emergency, ameliorating the status of prisoners inside prisons, details will be provided as follows:
The National Council for Human Rights branched out of the committee of policies in the National Democratic Party. In June 2003, the President of the republic issued a decree to establish the council hereby and law number 94, 2003 is the law organizing the council’s activities; since this date and the council is facing torrents of censure….why? There are some people who are keen to repeat that the National Council contributed to nothing unless there is a permission from the government besides part of the problem is attributed to some contradictions since every member in the council is bearing his own agenda that is based on different views and consideration; this is an inevitable matter in a diversified council like this. Our problem inside the council and mine personal problem is that we don’t make ads, and when the council started working, torrents of complaints swept the council because Egypt is full of oppression.
At the beginning of its work the council determined several priorities as persistent issues in the field of human rights….what is the fate of these priorities?
We started by listing the issue of Human rights as the most urgent matter. In the first session for the council we focused on two cases; “emergency and detainees”. Members thereupon agreed unanimously there will be no real protection and development while the state of emergency is still applied , secondly, their should be a review for the status of detainees because it is irrational that a detainee spends 10 years as a term; here comes the role of the council.
Among the criticisms against the council is that the majority of the members of the council do belong to the National Democratic Party?
This is true, believe me the council is composed of 25 members they all represent different trends; some are academics, professors, activists in human rights, and former jurists. Those who are known to belong to the National Democratic Partyare DR. Hossam Al-Badrawi, Said Al-Daqaq, Dr. Mustapha Al-Fiqi, cousellor Adl Qurahand may be Mona tho al-Fiqra
Do you face any objections when discussing some issues with these people inside the council
I told all these figures that I can understand well that they have the sense of belonging to the National Democratic Party, it is not necessary that the party obliges you to say certain things, it is better to say every thing with objectivity.
The proof is that after issuing the first report for the council after 10 days, an editor fro New York Times interviewed me and told me that the report included a petition for canceling the state of emergency while approved by three members only. I clarified these news by saying that all the council backed suspending emergency laws and this is unacceptable to propagate untrue information about the council.
The first report for the council was received with great applaud internationally and domestically because it showed true information and facts, but why was the second report was very weak?
Because in the first report we relied on the reports of expert organizations in human rights and civil society because we were in lack of information while in the second report we relied on complaints received, so in the first report we relied on others’ assumed information.
The council issued several reports that included several recommendations, what was the fate of those recommendations?
Human rights needs a specialized study, however the best weapon in the hands of human rights organizations is publicity because it creates popular awareness for the issue of human rights among people besides this represents an inhibiting weapon for any body attempts to violate human rights.
What are the issues that the Egyptian people are suffering from mainly in the field of human rights?
The only thing that guarantees the culture of human rights is respecting constitution and the rule of law, because the law in all issues is always superior to human wills.
So what about the law that fails to protect the rights of people?
If law did not assume its responsibility, people tries to resort to the people of power …if law is not brought into effect then we will be living in jungle.
What about the second report from your own point of view?
– The continuity of the state of emergency
The council asserted more than once that canceling the state of emergency is the first step towards reformation then the it issued a report regarding emergency and was submitted to the president of the republic in 2004, what then?
– We are not an executive council, we just offer recommendations, and we enjoy a great level of credibility all over the world.
There were diplomatic attempts from some British parties to make the council work as a mediator in order to deliver some imprisoned Egyptian political detainees abroad ?
The council refused that, because in order to assume this responsibility we must be a qualified body and enjoy privileges in order to provide those people the sufficient protection and keep their rights.
Some international and Egyptian human rights organization are estimating approximately that the number of detainees in Egyptian prisons ranges from 10 to 16 thousand one, how does the council estimate them?
Some says that the number exceeded 20 thousand, this has nothing to do to me even if they where only 5 thousands only, the main problem lies in the fact that the people are not aware enough of their legal rights. Torturing one Egyptian citizen is like torturing 70 million Egyptians and if people feel afraid they will never produce and if they did not produce Egypt will never develop.
What are the citizen’s means kin confronting despotism and tyranny of the regime?
Citizen can defeat the state and regime through civil disobedience, and this is regarded as great threat for progress and development, so the right security procedures should work in order to serve the citizen.
You have headed many visits to number of prisons, what did you notice?
We have seen only a view, there are many services now in prison, but we can say that is a developing utility that has health care and there is a good use for the efforts of prisoners in production, however, there are several defects that are in need for reformation.
The council witnessed lately a crisis because of the report submitted by the committee of the constitutional reformation headed by counselor Adel Qurah, and it ended with reforming several; articles in constitution.?
The matter is not so serious like that, and exaggeration in this matter came from abroad and it came from other members in the council who gave their judgment before ending the report… confrontation never comes through itching problems… and if you wanted to kill some one in an undeveloped society so you have to give rumors about him then propagate it.
Some members in the council objected the notion of establishing the committee and its report because this is not from the specializations of the council?
Indeed, some said this opinion, yet my own point of view and the other members’ of the council is quite different for simple reason; How can the council law be committing to the establishment of a committee for political rights and do not speak about the electoral system, the state of emergency and the People’s Assembly and Shura Council authorities?!
Despite the importance of the report of constitutional amendments, which included several requests for the political powers, yet some people undermined the importance of this report claiming that the report was declared after the end of the general conference for the National Party?
There is no relation between the Experts of Constitutional reformist committee report in the council and the National Democratic Party concerning the suggested constitutional amendments besides, the committee includes several prominent figures in the field of constitutional law and they are known for their integrity, and the committee included other two members not belonging to the council like Dr. Yehia Al-Gamal and Dr. Atif Al-Banna and they are supposed to be opposing figures.
Does this mean that the argument was related to the presence of Al-Gamal and Al-Banna?
It has never been an argument. I want to tell you that from the reasons behind the deterioration in Arab Muslim culture is that the concept of dialogue is ignored by 100%.
Is it among the jurisdictions of the National Council to interfere in the issues of constitutional reformation and policy in Egypt?
Yes, it is from its right, because how can the council defend human rights under a constitution that abnegates all related to freedom? In other words, how can we protect human rights while there is no abiding by the international conventions?
Despite that, the council focused all its efforts on the constitutional texts that are related to rights, and general freedoms, how we can assume this responsibility while the executive power tightens its grip on the Judicial and legislative power?! Certainly, humanity is in need for the idea of authority to challenge authority and also the absolute power is an absolute corruption. And our role is the totally presentation of those suggestions and the recommendations because we share in the mechanism of constitutional amendment.
The council refused amending article 76 in its current form?
– Yes, the council opposed the amendment applied to article 76.
Ask any one in street… you will find people replying that there is no constitution throughout the world that includes a constitutional article in a paper and half of paper… The president believed that the elections that result in 99% or anything alike is a shameful matter, besides people show weak turnout for elections as they do believe that “whatever happens, the president will win”!! This compelled him to open the doors before the political multiplicity. This step was a crucial one in the process of political reformation regardless of the results from the article 76 itself. I suggest amending article 76, there should be serious guarantees because this is the most important post in the republic; the presidency. With great regards to all people, however, we can not open the doors before people who understand nothing in policy and political affairs.
In your own point of view, do you think that the first presidential elections were joking then?
Of course, they were….President of the state has an honorific post so if he neglected defending this honor, we should never abandon defending it.
But the initiative of the President did not meet the real targets?
The method and the way that the president amended the articles resulted in closing doors before multiplicity; therefore it is aborted by the president. We believe that the country is full of disturbances and tensions especially after the rise of Muslim Brotherhood who won 88 parliamentary seats; had it not been for some independent nominees who joined brethrens, they would have never one thirds of the parliament, so they would represent more than one third. We should be cautious of that for political reasons, but how can we express that?
Moreover, the National Party is a weak one, id does not know policy or even practice it. It has no qualified cadres for joining the partisan career and these are the problems of the party which needs much time. Despite there is a great advancement in two matters, the organizational preparation and the usage of technology which save much time yet bringing up cadres needs time.
What are the fears from the Muslim Brotherhood group?
The repeated claim is that brethrens are well organized and can attract masses….then where are the efforts of the National Party to gain control? If we felt that there is a certain threat while I am not politically ready, security must interfere to solve the problem.
This what happened exactly in last elections?
Where exactly does security’s role becomes manifest?
Like veins, if the main artery stopped functioning, secondary veins activate, but the myocardium weakens gradually.
What is the main artery?
Freedom of press and expression, People’s Assembly, and the rule of law. If you provided people freedom to write and express, there will never be an under organizing. The problem is that we provide legitimacy when all outlets are brought to cul de sac.
What is the problem of professional syndicates?
The problem is that they are politicized which made bodies like the bar association and the syndicate of engineers to be overrun by brethrens, besides there are partisan battles sweeping all associations. I refused to visit the bar association and I said that on the external level, the association presents bills but not political conflicts.
You criticized many leaders in the council because they hold meetings with foreigners more than Egyptian officials? Many tie between that and between the target from the establishment of council, and the dominant idea is that it is an attempt to beautify the face of regime?!
– We hold many meetings unlike what you say, but this is a matter of a legitimate defense, national security and the policies of the council.
You criticized severely the regime’ negligence for the recommendations of the council in many occasions?
-The state’ response became more positive regarding the council’s reports and recommendations. The premier agreed and appealed to the ministers to respond to the recommendations of the council; they agreed on 70% of the recommendations of the council.
You agreed to write the introduction for the controversial novel of “Awlad Haritna” for the famous novelist Naguib Mahfouz who refused to publish the novel unless the Azhar agrees before the publication of the first legitimate edition after 47 years?
The matter is related to hima nad not me, we were in a meeting with Mahfouz, the reporter Ahmad Farag, Muhammad Salamawy, and Ibrahim Almu’alim, where Faraq offered Mahfouz to appear before TV programs in order to clarify for the people all the confusions and uproars about the novel, thereupon I said that people insist that symbolism reflects opinion and a certain ideologies.
The opponents of publishing the novel described it as attacking the Divine Entity and Prophets as it tackled the story of the creator with creatures but in a literary context?!
Because they thought that “Al-Gabalawi” is one of the novel’s characters, symbolism is an assumption, for example the character of “Arafa” who symbolizes science in the novel, when he decided to bring reformations to the alley, he failed… so people started to search for Al-Gabalawi… so you are in need for religion as you need science.
Some thinkers believe that the Mahfouz’s condition is that Al-Azhar should first agree on publishing the novel, they regard it as a matter of censorship imposed by the religious authority over the literary works?
We are dealing with many faces, every one of us is wearing a mask; I respect any one comes to me and say “I am an atheist”, or anyone comes and says, “I am panicked from extremism” this is a heritage, but there are some people who hate religiosity in all its forms, and sometimes there are some people who hate moderate ones rather than extremists… I like facing this kind of people- the extreme anger for Naguib Mahfouz not from- a man once told me “Naguib Mahfouz became an “employee”, unfortunately we always force men of letters to say what we want to believe in.
How to you evaluate the political situation in Egypt?
The political situation is messy and full of anarchy, some find this as a bad omen. I believe that this situation can be a motive to further developments, so every one has to express his opinion in a way that guarantees explicit. In my own point of views, the Egyptian people are very kind people, and this is a favorable opportunity for the ruler, also I think that President Mubarak has no problem with Egyptian masses, however being away was manifest in the performance and the way issues were propounded by the bodies of the state.
The problem of Arab regimes is that they deal with the demands of people always in refusal or meet their needs in a way of boastfulness and in accordance with their subjective views?
This is a wrong conception… Egypt has great records in democratic development, even before the revolution, but I agree with you that there is deterioration in the issue of the rule of law and the freedom of expression.
What is the problem of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?
Their problem is related to them, as it is also related to the political system who regards brethrens as “zero politics”, and they proliferated in an unhealthy manner, regimes want to look upon brethrens as a completion for political powers… this is the most dangerous concept about brethrens…the world is changing and the old guards of the group can not recognize the developments, besides the new generations from them know nothing about the developments. The crisis of the presence of two generations is not only the problem of Muslim Brotherhood but also all groups.
Does this mean that you believe that the old generation is rebellious?
– The new generation is indeed rebellious “Al-Wasat Party” branched out of Muslim Brotherhood group.
Many people say that you belong to Muslim Brotherhood or at least feel sympathy with them?
This is untrue…we don’t like to search for truth, what really hurts me is that the Egyptian citizen hates reading and knowledge as he/she hates death when I was a student in university I used to go and listen one of the leading brethrens Mustapha Mu’min then second day go and listen to Mustapha Musa who belong to Al-Wafd party, I was attracted very much to “Misr Al-Fatah” party and I used to listen the speeches of Ahmad Hussein, we never felt a great distinction between all these groups, because they had one target which is liberating Egypt from the English imperialism.
First, I can never be a member in the Muslim Brotherhood because simply I was brought up in a religious family; my father was the legitimate Supreme Court Chief Justice, and my uncle was the Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Hassanin Makhlouf. We used to apply Islam and abide by its right in a harmonious manner not in a strict way, because brethrens believe that Muslim can not be true Muslim unless he joins Muslim Brotherhood.
Our generation was different even the era of Hassan Al Banna
Secondly, Allah created every one of us with a focus, my focus is two mainly things; freedom and mercy; both are Islamic concepts. Unfortunately, I wrote many things about these matters, someone called Becker included an article for me issued at Al-Ahram newspaper called “Islam Billa Khawf” (Islam without fear) where I said that we used to deal with Islam in a tolerant and moderate way full of serenity, we used not to speak about Islam so often,,, yet those people speak about Islam with all kinds of pain and difficulty, many people ignored my ideas, I call their belief as “The Islam of anger”.
Do you mean that “Islam of Anger” is the reason behind the offenses against Islam now?
Yes, to a great extent it is, yet there is a horror triangle whose sides are anger, isolation then literacy in interpreting the text.
Again, we want to ask you what about the clash between Muslim Brotherhood and the regime?
The problem is that the regime is politically incapable to solve the problem… we are experiencing a new phase; we should observe the political phenomena not those related to security…. Security is an important element but not the decisive one.
The government had two opportunities, and still it can seize them, first to carry out healthy dialogues with the group, try to attract the rationales of this group and especially the new generation, and then ease tension in a sympathetic way.
The government has a great opportunity to negotiate with the group, it is not necessary to send a minister in order to negotiate them, but the society has many figures that have ties with Islamic trends… the question I want to propound in the matter with Muslim Brothers: do they work from inside or outside the regime in other words.
For example, I can ask my self: am I against the regime but I feel that I am not the obedient servant for the regime at the same time I am assistant. Regime must differentiate between assistants and the obedient servants, because assistants play and important role and can contradict you while obedient servents have blind obedience.
People serving the regime are more than its assistants?
Of course the servants are greater…they even can not hide this fact but some kind people of them try to serve others, they have their excuse actually because befriending the regime is a difficult matter.
Indeed it is difficult, but you can set rules from the first day.
I started to apply the rules of the game, and offer the complete loyalty in order to gain freedom and respect, and I exaggerate in praising, try to be neutral with all powers in the regime, because in our countries we do not choose our rulers, we did not choose other presidents even president Mubarak. It is our duty that we should help our rulers, in other words, if our rulers do not have a charisma then we should support them with a suite who are having a charisma, and if they don’t have a charisma, we should choose for them a manager in their council, and if they are shallow people, we should establish research centers that would guide them.
Do you expect that President Mubarak would change his opinion concerning article 76 and 77 in the constitution?
Yes I expect that?
What about your personal opinion in article 77?
It is not bad but if the elections are free, and we should take into consideration that we are living in a society that has social, political and cultural diversities.
Are there any democratic elections in Egypt?
Not yet, but if there are any signs that the elections are fair for 57%, then there is no need to speak about the article 77 and specify it for two terms, there is nothing can abstain us from making open elections like that in France and other countries.
Yes…but under the weak circulation of authority since 1952, I think two terms are enough for 12 years, indeed there are many issues, one can not reach a conclusion about like the free charge education, it does not mean that I do not have an opinion. The most cautious opinion is that two presidential terms are enough.
Presidential seat in Egypt is an open issue that never ends? How do you see the term “bequeathing”?
Any constitutional condition to move from the logic legitimacy to the constitutional legitimacy would be difficult and risky…Personally, I have reservations on the term “political command” it is equal to “The Divine Entity”, here in Egypt no body speaks if the president is sick.
What about “the bequeathing”?
The term is not accurate, what can really occur is the usage of the realistic position to show the character of Gamal Mubarak, I see Gamal as a good mannered man, he gained a large expertise because he moved from realistic position to legal one… through texts we can call this “bequeathing”… I believe it is not because you brought it in a legal mold.
This means that it is realistically does exist?!
– I am certain that it exists..
Will he rule?
– almost sure… look at his words when he speaks… in his final speech, he said much information… he used the words, “we, us” as if he is the president of the republic.
What preoccupies you then?
I am overwhelmed by objective issues like respecting constitution and freedoms besides elections should be carried out with transparency and under no pressures or instructions.
If Gamal Mubarak tried to assume the presidency through elections, constitution and in democratic methods, would it be a disturbing situation for the future of Egypt?
Yes because it will pave way for being a tradition…Personally, I love President Mubarak and his spontaneity. I believe that he spent many years of his life working for the good of this country… once, I told the late President Al-Sadat, that I have a problem with you and I find this problem with many people, he asked me, “what is the problem?”, I told him that I agree with his policy in all field by 80% at least, and you are upset for that and you want me to agree with you for 100%, at the same time opposition can not accept my opposition for 30%…many other people like me have the same problem…what should they do? So, “Your Excellency must accept the 70%, whether you or the opposition?!”
What do you think about the retreat in American pressures concerning the internal reformation….Does this have to do with the political blockage in the Egyptian political arena?
America is a super power state and it witnesses great disturbances, we can say that it is falling it suffers that the American society has high rate of diversity.
Were there really pressures before?
Of course, there were pressures that really exceeded limits; I have a high sensitivity from this issue. I disrespect Americans, they will respect me for this because they disrespect only weak while they respect the strong even if he were oppressor. I believe that ties with USA should be strong because it is a strong country, but I oppose the Egyptian policies because it stands weak before America, even delegations traveling there are very weak.
Ho do they appear weak?
This does not mean we should declare war against America… look to India it deals with England as if India is the major power while England is the minor power.
The council established a committee for citizenship, do you think sectarian sedition that sometimes erupts and the crisis of citizenship is in need for a council to solve it?
I as a Muslim have no right to sleep while there is a Copt who suffers oppression this is according to my religious and national beliefs…how can I marginalize them while they have really complaints.
What do they suffer from?
They suffer restrictions concerning the establishment of churches besides they do not occupy certain posts in the state, oppression is prohibited in Islam, Copts of Egypt were protected by Muslims and Christians in Andalusia were also protected by Muslims.
What is the crisis in the moment?
We suffer from religious intolerance, you can find a man drinking alcohols, call names on religion and an addict, but when he hears about a fight between a Muslim and a Christian you find him getting a dagger then stabbing the Christian.
Copts call for amending the second article in constitution?
I beware them, because I object any amendments in the second article.
They criticize you for this?
I am proud for this, I told to Copts in Zurich on the fringe of the conference of the Emigrant Copts especially, Adly Abadir, I told them that what you are doing is wrong besides I said to Adly Abadir, “You are a terrorist and want to terrorize all surrounding you”.
There is a red line for the interests of Christians, they should not open the issue of the second article in constitution, and the issue of legislation, because moderate Muslims and fanatic Muslims will object any amendments in the article. I believe that article 2 in constitution has no problem because it speaks about the principles of the Islamic Shari’a, besides the constitutional court said this is the legislation of the legislator and the Jury has nothing to do with.
In the crisis with judges, you played a role in order to solve the problem but you failed… what are the reasons?
Yes all my attempts failed, because we thought that the crisis would be settled from the beginning yet it furthered and became complicated. I tried to solve the problem because this is my duty before I die.
The first session of the council after two months, and according to the law of the council, an new set of members shall be formed, will you be one of them?
He laughed…. This is not the time of the question…this is not my concern; I am concerned to perform my duties as well as I can for the sake of my country.
Some gossipers say that the constitutional amendments were a kind of discharging the responsibility for Dr. Ahmad Kamal Abu Al-Majd…what do you think?
I am innocent from any charge …. The council is the one who approves finally. I am not the only one who gives my opinions and orders.
How can you explain the heavy censures against the council from press?
-Someone claimed that our council has certain interests.
Did you wish something to do at the first session then you failed?
I wished that the reward would be respect for human rights according to people in order to change the common culture about human rights in our society.