- Middle East/North Africa
In essence, President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration is an attack on the judicial institution to force it out of the political realm. This is good in and of itself, because the judiciary is a corrupt institution that sympathizes with the Interior Ministry and the army, and derides the people and opposes their choices.
Therefore, a democratic alternative necessitates the radical restructuring of the judiciary and calls for public monitoring on its operation, in a fashion similar to the jury system in the US.
But the Muslim Brotherhood is not doing that; it is keeping the old web of interests, and only keeping it from interfering in the group’s work. It is giving the judiciary a free hand, so long as that does not interfere with the Brotherhood’s work.
The Brotherhood also got the army out of the political field by reassuring it that its interests would be kept intact, including its confidential budget entitlements, land and the immunity it has against accountability. That way, the army’s “feudalism” will be managed by unmonitored, failing generals.
Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is bearing the responsibility for the failure of the army in Sinai, while psychos devise conspiracy theories about the handover of Sinai to the Palestinians, even though Gaza has more money and better services and education than Sinai.
It is also clear that the Brotherhood has agreed with senior Interior Ministry leaders that corruption will only be eliminated within the tightest limits. It also seems the Brothers have agreed that torture should be no problem, so long as the victims are not Islamists.
The Brotherhood and the Interior Ministry, it seems, have agreed that the salaries of officers would be raised, and that the old laws that allowed them to bully the people and steal their money would remain.
In other words, the Interior Ministry would just have to make its presence felt on the streets and steer clear of politics in return for the protection of its interests.
The problem is that torture, corruption and bullying are all political issues that concern a large segment of people.
Also, revenge-centered confrontations, like those that erupted in Mohamed Mahmoud Street on the anniversary of clashes there the year before and the memory of the Port Said football violence, will continue to thrust the Interior Ministry into the heart of the political realm. This means that calls for cleansing the ministry would hit the Brotherhood in the face every now and then, particularly since those who get tortured in prisons are often Brotherhood sympathizers and allies.
Having tamed the army and the police, the Brotherhood was left with the judiciary and the media. But the judiciary and the media are complex, multiple-body institutions that do not have a single leadership with which the Brotherhood can negotiate.
The Brotherhood had no choice but to chain the judiciary and suppress the media. To their minds, the recent constitutional declaration would chain the judiciary, while the Shura Council, Journalists Syndicate head Mamdouh al-Wali and Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud restrict the print and visual media.
Abdel Maqsoud is clamping down on employees at the Maspero state TV building with the help of followers of former Information Minister and Shura Council Speaker Safwat al-Sherif. He is also piling pressure to shut down feloul, or old-regime-associated, channels, such as Al-Faraeen, as well as revolutionary ones, such as ON TV.
Morsy’s decisions constitute a desperate attempt to restrict a hostile institution that belongs to a former regime, particularly after Constituent Assembly head Hossam al-Gheriany and Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky failed in this impossible mission.
Of course I do support the removal of the prosecutor general, the radical cleansing of the judicial institution through legal amendments and the reduction of the age of retirement for judges. I also support scrutiny and monitoring of their operations.
However, I call for the purging of other institutions of corruption, such as the army and the Interior Ministry, so that these institutions and the judiciary are subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
This is why I am against Morsy and the Brotherhood’s attempts to get the same corrupt oppressive institutions working, this time with the Brotherhood in control. I oppose the immunization of Morsy’s decisions against judicial inspection and call for the swift election of a parliament.
Mohamed El-Baaly is an Egyptian writer and journalist. This article is an edited version of his Facebook note written in Arabic.This piece was translated from Arabic by Dina Zafer.