Egypt Independent

Senior judge’s comments about Sharia law stir debate

The statements of Ahmed al-Zend, the head of the Egyptian Judges’ Club, in which he said that Egypt’s judges are eager to apply Sharia law, have stirred a wide range of reactions among judges. Many say the comments are misleading.

Some judges argue that Islamic law is already applied to a large extent in Egypt, while others stressed the importance of not discussing this matter as judges have nothing to do with the laws they apply and that the matter concerns the legislative authorities.

Last week, Zend told prominent Salafi preacher Mohamed Hassan in a public lecture at the Judges’ Club that Egyptian judges are eager to apply Sharia, but he didn’t explain further what he meant.

A judicial source who requested anonymity said that Zend’s statements are meant to encourage Salafi MPs in Parliament to adopt the views of the Judges’ Club concerning a long awaited judiciary draft law.

Zend fears that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will support a draft law prepared by Judge Ahmed Mekki, the head of the committee responsible for amending the law regulating Egypt's judiciary.

Judges have produced two conflicting draft laws regulating Egypt’s judiciary. The draft prepared by Mekki will create a fully independent judiciary, according to experts. However, the draft law prepared by Zend focuses on the social and economic welfare of the judges.

The assembly can draft a new law from scratch and ignore both drafts.

The Democratic Alliance, headed by the FJP, holds nearly 47 percent of seats in the People’s Assembly, while the Salafi Nour Party won 24 percent of seats.

Both parties advocate that Sharia law play a role in the nation’s legislation. However, the FJP takes more pragmatic stance, saying that they want to build a modern, democratic state based on Sharia law.

Other judges weren’t concerned about the possible battle over the judiciary draft law.

Judge Abdel Moneim Sohaimy said that the full application of Sharia requires different economic and social contexts. The economy should be strong to provide everyone with suitable living standards so they don’t resort to theft.

Sohaimy added, “I lived for seven years in Saudi Arabia, and I have many concerns about the application of Sharia there.” He refused to elaborate more about his views about the shortcomings of the application of Sharia in Saudi Arabia.

Judge Ezzat Agawa said that Zend’s statements are irrelevant as judges apply the existing laws. The decision to apply Sharia is up to the People’s Assembly, and the judges will carry out the law as they legislate it, he said.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm