Should MB Seek Int’l Protection Against Gov’t Oppression?
Counselor Noha Othman El-Zeiny is a brave judge who broke the barrier of silence and blew the whistle on election rigging and fraud during the 2005 Egyptian parliamentary elections.
El-Zeiny obtained her PhD degree in constitutional law from Cairo University and a master in public law from the University of Paris. She also earned a diploma in French literature from the Sorbonne- Paris. She is an author, a poet and a person with great personal characters.
Ikhwanweb has previously published Al Zeiny’s sharp criticism to the Muslim Brotherhood in issues like the veil and the performance of some Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarians; the following is an important article by this courageous judge, with the same attitude of exposing injustice and slamming hypocrisy and double standard policies with her clear and frank discourse.
I have been, like most Egyptians, preoccupied with the proposed constitutional amendments; I began, during some public meetings, point out my viewpoint over article 88 related to the judicial supervision over the elections, a viewpoint which I adopted from the very beginning; my conviction increased with the passage of time and incidents: that the judicial supervision on the Egyptian elections is useless in the midst of the current situation because it will not achieve the required integrity while the cohesion of the judicial institution and people’s trust in it are endangered; this has been revealed and confirmed by latest incidents; this is because I strongly believe that the constitutional and legal texts can’t generally make an inexistent reality alone and that law does not deal with a virtual reality, but it is growing in a down-to-earth environment which it is affecting and is also affected by it. Therefore, insisting on keeping the judicial supervision, whether in the form of ” a judge of every ballot box” or in the form currently proposed by the constitutional amendments, while lacking a political will for holding fair and integral elections and a strong public opinion that can impose and protect this fairness, is only a kind of political fantasy and legislative deceit.
The same rule is also applied on any other constitutional text; in other words, it is useless to speak about a constitutional text on the sacredness of citizens’ privacy while the Interior Minister tells Members of Parliament that telephone calls of citizens are wiretapped and that “any one worried about this shouldn’t speak”, according to him; it is useless to speak about a constitutional text on the supremacy of law and that the government must abide by law while the Justice Minister acknowledges in front of the parliament also that judicial rulings do not take effect and that what can be done is that the one who gets a judicial ruling can only “decorate it and hang it on the wall”; as a matter of fact, it is synonymously agreed that there is a long list of many constitutional texts and rulings that can’t be enacted that, ironically speaking, deserve to be put in frames and hanged on walls.
While preoccupied with the constitutional amendments, there emerged some political and media, seemingly separate but are actually related, incidents. These incidents made me change my question regarding the benefit of discussing the constitutional amendments to a question about the benefit of the very existence of an Egyptian constitution amid a status quo in which all constitutional texts are actually cancelled:
The first incident that surprised us came from Dr. Mostafa Al-Feqi during a workshop held by the National Council for Women; he said that the principle of state sovereignty can be dropped in front of the right of women who face discrimination or persecution as they can demand the intervention of the international community for this discrimination. Such statement may be given a deaf ear if it was said by a layman; but when this statement is said by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the People’s Assembly (lower chamber of parliament) and other elite figures, we have to discuss it; there are many inquiries that struck intellectuals who were stunned by statement; some of them were mentioned by columnist Magdi Mehanna in his essay “Tabooed” in which he wondered whether every one has the right to demand the intervention of the international community, in addition to women, like for example minorities and political detainees?!; and whether Dr. Al Feqi- who delivered this statement during a lecture in front of the members of the National Council for Women – meant to confine this right to women alone, and, if so, will it extend to include also women who are facing everyday flagrant violations in streets and in police stations and women whose houses and privacies are violated by state security police “Dawn Visitors” who storm into their houses to arrest their husbands and sons in a scene that moves the emotions of every one everywhere regardless of the ideological agreement or disagreement with those targeted in these crackdowns?; or whether he thinks that this “feminist right” that can drop the principle of state sovereignty is restricted to the demands of the National Council for Women in which Dr. Al-Feqi is a member, those demands that differ in form and content from the demands of all Egyptian oppressed women?. However, and contrary to expectations of Mr. Magdi Mehanna when he said in his column that Dr. Mostafa Al-Feqi committed a mistake in declaring such a statement that wasn’t and won’t be said, I will repeat here what Dr. Al Feqi said with a simple amendment: that this right, guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Egypt signed in 1981 and became according to article 151 of the constitution a part of the Egyptian law, allows all men and women who claim that they are victims of state violations to demand international aid; the core of the problem is that Dr. Al Feqi lifted the mask of a statesman and put on the mask of a scholar and declared the truth: that the state sovereignty does not justify at all its tyranny against its citizens and that the main contemporary human rights include receiving international justice if he didn’t find it inside his homeland; I hope that our great intellectual Dr. Al Feqi keeps this mask of a scholar after he gets out of the National Council of Women, specially when he goes to the human rights council in which he is a member as well.
In the same week, we read the statements of the Prime Minister to Newsweek Magazine, in which he said that Egypt declared, from the very beginning, its rejection to holding the Palestinian legislative elections that led to the win of Hamas movement but the Americans insisted on holding these elections despite the Egyptian warning of the expected win of Hamas; he said also that the US administration miscalculated the danger of electing extremist Islamists through its strong support to democratization in the region.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Ahmed Nazif has been adopting a clear and declared opinion regarding peoples who haven’t matured yet, the most prominent of which is the Egyptian people whose government he is heading; he has previously described the Egyptian people in a similar statement as immature people; he is now including the Palestinian people as well, paying no attention to the cultural and political ancient history of both peoples and the bitter experiences of national resistance and liberation which both of them have met. Such peoples can’t, according to Dr. Nazif, realize the meaning of democracy and are always choosing wrongly because they are immature; thus, the US administration should have realized this from the beginning, according to him, and spare the propaganda and pressures over reforms in the region because the democracy which is good for others is seemingly harmful to us.
Now, as the US administration has become more aware of the situation, according to the Prime Minister’s hints, we can deduce from these statements that a green light has been given to take measures that can prevent this experience (Hamas legislative win) that worries the Americans and its allies outside and inside the region; and that we expect an immediate execution of these measures whatever their nature and even if they conflict with the values of democracy stated in the first article of the constitution or the proposed principle of citizenship which is supposed to replace this very article to be introduced given that it is a basis of rights and duties, according to the text of the amendments and international agreements to human rights.
In a context that seems to be separated from the aforementioned incidents, comes the decision of referring the case no. 963 Supreme State Security, that includes forty defendants who are leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood group, topped by Eng. Khairat Al Shater to a military tribunal, giving a blind eye to all rules founding all contemporary constitutions and international principles of human rights and the judicial independence, in a full retreat to eras of trying civilians in front of military tribunals under measures that don’t provide for the defendant even the least guarantees that he get if he appears in front of his civilian judge. This is considered, in addition to its contradicting with the constitutional texts, a violation to Egypt’s international commitments that immediately recall to minds what Dr. Mostafa Al-Feqi advised women of the National Council for Women to do, to demand the intervention of the international community when they face discrimination or persecution according to the new development of international relations in which the country isn’t allowed to persecute and violate the rights and freedoms of its citizens, while the international community remains motionless. While we fully appreciate this precious advice of Dr. Al- Feqy, shall we expect him to give this very advice to members of the national council of human rights specially that the international covenant of political and civil rights has excluded the right to attain justice from the rights that the state can rescind on declaring a state of emergency, a suitable opportunity for the council to declare its objection to the ruling (of transferring MB leaders to military tribunals) or is it the weighty reality that will make some people retract and adhere to the saying “right words for the right occasion”?!
Councellor Noha El-Zeini– a deputy chairwoman at the Administrative Prosecution Authority- is a well-reputed Egyptian judge who spoke up about the rigging of the elections which she witnessed in a constituency during the Egyptian 2005 parliamentary elections. She is a professor of law, in addition, received MA degree in literature from the Sorbonne University in Paris, and is a poet and littérateur.
Scenes from Farouk Hosni’s Cultural Farce
Councellor Noha El-Zeini – Cairo, Egypt
Noha Othman El-Zeiny: The whistleblower
Gamal Nkrumah, Al-Ahram Weekly
Rain Song. By: Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb
Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb, Iraq