Egypt: ” Muslim Brotherhood Seeking Revenge on the Judges” – Moussa

The Constitutional crisis in Egypt between the Muslim Brotherhood president, Muhammad Morsi, and the thousands of judges in the Egyptian judiciary, according to Amr Moussa, derives from a misplaced desire for revenge on the part of the Brotherhood. Under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood was only semi-legal, and members were often imprisoned (Morsi himself was). Moussa, a former cabinet member under Mubarak who broke with the regime around 2000 and became secretary general of the Arab League, says it is wrong to think of Mubarak appointees on the bench as mere lackeys of the former regime. Many sought more judicial independence, and often gave Brotherhood members a break, he said.

The BBC reports that President Muhammad al-Morsi is attempting to persuade judges there to compromise with him on the issues of hiring and re-hiring.

Moussa said that the president’s proposed compromise should have been offered from the very beginning.

There is an argument that Morsi, who gained a slim mandate as president last June and operates in the absence of a lower house of parliament (elections are set for October) should just wait until there is a proper government next fall and work with elected representatives on judicial reform.

The president had announced that the mandatory retirement age for judges had been changed from 70 to 60 The judges protested that some quarter of sitting judges would thereby be forced out. Then Morsi, they argued, would use the vacancies as as a pretext to stack the courts with Muslim Brotherood judges. The Muslim Brotherhood has long been said to suspect that the judges are Mubarak appointees and that they might like to promote a counter-revolution with their decrees.

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2 Responses

  1. Juan, You are quite right about all this. Luckily though, for the Egyptian judiciary, there has been somewhat of a reprieve after the MB’s “purge” demonstration and the predictable counter-protest led to one more violent confrontation. The regime is likely getting bad vibes from the donor community, however subtle and the MB has been concerned about the judges threat to take the issue to an international court of some sort. So they won’t get….at least not yet… the 3,000+ scalps they had hoped to take by changing the retirement age…as former SGuide Mehdi Akef claimed [and quickly denied saying]was their goal.

    Once again, at least temporarily, Morsi has had to backtrack on an ill-conceived policy, likely born in Moqattam. However, despite his announcement that this would be delt with via a conference, the Shura Council is going forward with its drafting of a bill on the subject.

    The defections related to this attempted power grab have been an embarassment as well: the MB Minister of Justice, Judge Ahmed Mekki, resigned [following his brother who left his position as a judicial advisor some time back] and now Morsi’s outspoken, relatively young legal advisor, who did not go quietly, but reveal his disgust for the incompetence and other sins of the current government and the MB.

    Morsi is now supposed to sit down with his experts and with the leading judges in a conference to work towards a consensual law regarding judicial matters. We’ll see.

    You are quite right about the judges, they are a mixed lot and the MB forgets that the “reformists” among them, to include the brothers Mekki, stood up to Mubarak over the 2005 elections and many illegal Mubarak moves. Many of their decisions did, in fact, benefit the MB.

    The MB criticizes the judges for the light sentences or dismissal of the cases of those who committed economic or other crimes against the country. However, the judges point out that they can only work with the case that the prosecutors present and in most cases that has been thin gruel, leading many to believe that the MB has cut a deal with the felloul, so that they can “do business” which is the priority of the El Shater wing [the most powerful] within the organization.

    While the MB has moved ahead quickly with the Brotherhoodization of government agencies, they have had little luck with two of the three most independent parts of the “deep state”, the military, security-intelligence, and the most vulnerable of the three, the judiciary. I would not be surprised if the Minister of Defense did not warn them they may be going too far.

    The charge against the MB that secular and Islamist parties make is that all other horrors aside, the MB-led government is simply incompetent and has presented no vision for moving the country forward, concentrating instead on their own goals. This, the critics say, has led them to appoint people who are loyal, rather than competent, to deal with very important matters.

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