Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami-India
Egypt's first freely elected president Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death by a court in Cairo. The verdict by judge Shaaban el-Shami, a man with porcine features, again reminds us that Egypt is in the grip of a ruthless violent mafia.
Historically, judiciary in dictatorships has always been a tool of oppression. The situation gets worse when it's a military dictatorship. Judiciary seeks not only to provide legitimacy to tinpot dictators but also helps them in eliminating their political opponents through court-sanctioned murders.
Egypt's post-coup judiciary has broken all records of judicial villainy. The scoundrel judges appointed by the Egyptian coup leader Abdel Fattah El-Sisi have sentenced thousands of anti-coup protesters to death and tens of thousands to long-term prison sentences.
The persecution of political activisits by Egypt's murderous judiciary goes on unabated. While the ghoulish men pretending to be judges are carrying out murder after murder of political activists, most world leaders are silent either because they condone the crimes of the Egyptian junta or they are unable to fathom the ugliness of Sisi's regime.
The same judiciary is busy protecting Egypt's former dictator Hosni Mubarak, his sons Ala and Gamal Mubarak, and the dictator's criminal associates. The Mubarak gang committed every perceivable crime: murders, embezzlement, loot of national resources, treason in collaborating with Israel and Zionism, undermining of Egypt's sovereignty for bribes from Gulf rulers and the Pentagon.
Morsi, whose year-long tenure was Egypt's only period of civilian rule since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, was given death sentence on May 16 along with more than 100 others. The Egyptian judiciary sentenced more than 1,000 democracy defendants to death in the spring of 2014. Such judicial orders for mass killings are unprecedented in modern history.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a rare voice in the region supporting democratic aspirations of people. On the Morsi verdict he was forthright: "Unfortunately, Egypt has given a death sentence to an elected president with 52 percent of the votes. Egypt is returning to old Egypt."
Erdogan was referring to the Pharaonic rule of that ended more than two millennia ago. There is a tendency among certain Arab League dictatorships to return to those Pharaonic and jahiliya days and their dissolute and savage lifestyles. The way they exercise power with Western backing certainly signals lunacy.
The Egyptian people were ruthlessly run over by tanks and shot dead on the orders of corrupt generals. Citizens have been deprived of their right to elect their leaders in free and fair elections. Muslim Brotherhood leaders who came to power through democratic elections have been sentenced to death and life imprisonment by the junta's thugs.
In his criticism of Egypt's judiciary, Erdogan says: "A judicial system that has no conscience or bravery, and that sees its citizens as slaves, is a judicial system that can commit murder any time."
In continuation of judicial murders, 529 individuals were sentenced to death in Egypt on March 24 this year on charges related to violence in the south of Cairo. Hundreds of more people are currently on trial on similar charges.
Mubarak's efforts to dismantle judicial independence successfully produced a conservative body whose top echelon supported the pro-stability narrative that has put Egypt in the corrupt military's hands once more. As a result, legal reforms are unlikely to come from within the judiciary. Egyptians are condemned to live in corruption without any legal remedy.
The military junta has persistently tried to discourage, punish and purge independent judges. Many have become part of the corruption. Independent judges who publicly condemned the July 3, 2013 ouster of Morsi have been targeted by the Ministry of Justice's investigative committee. Judge Zakaria Abdel Aziz, the former head of the Judge's Club, when the judicial independence movement was at its peak, has been charged with an alleged involvement in political activities.
Anti-coup protester Mahmoud Ramadan was executed in early March. His trial was a mockery of justice. According to court documents, Ramadan was found guilty of "killing a child by stabbing him and throwing him off the roof." He was condemned to death in May 2014.
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have received heavy punishments on trumped up charges of violence following the 2013 coup. But no policeman or soldier has been convicted for their involvement in killing and injuring thousands of people. A police captain jailed for gassing to death 37 prisoners inside a police truck later had his conviction overturned.
Egypt's institutions dominated by the junta and its brutal thugs lack even the most basic decency and respect for human rights. Recently Egypt's state media reported that a disciplinary court has ordered 41 judges for compulsory retirement for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the latest move in a sweeping crackdown on political dissent. According to another report, 31 of the judges were sent into compulsory retirement for signing a statement condemning Morsi's removal.
Similarly, Judges Mahmoud El-Khodeiry and Mahmoud Mekki, also key figures in the pro-judicial independence protests in 2005-2007, are under investigation for "engaging in politics" in violation of the Judicial Authority Law. Many of the judges who boldly challenged Mubarak's rule years before the January 2011 uprising are now finding themselves systematically purged from the judiciary.
Egypt has become such a savage place that honorable conduct is now treated as a crime. Since the 2013 coup at least six journalists have been killed while covering protests in Egypt by security forces.
According to human rights groups, Egyptian authorities are using the courts to stifle journalism. Dozens of media people are serving jail sentences and many more are facing criminal investigations. Such blatant acts against the media by Egypt's judiciary are a grave challenge to basic freedoms.
The obscene Sisi regime is wrong to think it can survive through acts of cruelty. It's important for the regime's Gulf backers to know that they need to exercise restraint in bankrolling Cairo criminals. If they don't learn from the mistakes of other faithless dictators, their fate won't be different from those who were destroyed by their arrogance.
Saudi Arabia, which claims to speak on behalf of Muslims, should use its influence to make Egyptian rulers give up their irresponsible behaviour. Perhaps it's time for King Salman to rectify some of the old Saudi mistakes and reshape the kingdom's foreign policy in line with the region's popular aspirations. Saudi Arabia cannot trust a vile regime in Cairo. These gangs will betray anyone for material gains.
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