Egyptian Chronicles: It is a sign of changing times indeed

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It is a sign of changing times indeed

Last week was a busy one when it come to death sentences in Egypt.

On Saturday Former President Mohamed Morsi and 105 others were sentenced to death by the criminal court.

BY Khalil El-Baih 
On Sunday Egyptian authorities executed 6 men convicted by a military court in the case known in the media as the “Arab Sharks cell” over a range of charges including the murder of army officers.

On Monday a Mansoura Criminal court sentenced one person to death over another terrorism-related charges in some case.

The debate about capital punishment had to be brought up and for the first time we see Islamists speaking about the suspension of Capital punishment in the country.

Abdel Moneim Abu El-Fotouh , the former presidential candidate and leader of Strong Egypt party called on Monday in an official statement for abolishing Capital punishment in Egypt in a short statement in English released by Strong Egypt. This is a huge thing for the former leading member in the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist politician to call for.

Needless to say I am realistic enough to know that this could a mistake in translation because in tweet sent on his official twitter account, Abu El-Fotouh demanded the suspension of capital punishment in Egypt due to the lacks of any guarantees to have justice and political as well social polarization.


There is a big difference between the suspension of the capital punishment and the abolishment of capital even linguistically.
Of course on Thursday the party issued another statement saying Abu El-Fotouh was demanding the cancellation of special courts in Egypt and the temporarily suspension of capital punishment. I think in late 2013 new special terrorism circuit inside the Criminal Court was set up allegedly to speed up justice.

Even when it comes to the temporarily suspension, this is unprecedented for Islamist politicians to speak about that in public after years of defending capital punishment and considering it a taboo.
Already the Islamic Sharia includes death sentence as punishment in its panel code especially for premeditated murder as a retribution “an eye for an eye”. Still there are still views about the death sentence in other issues according to my knowledge including apostasy itself. Of course now most Islamic scholars support capital punishment as part of the Islamic Hudud.

Well in our Islamic history Omar Ibn El-Khattab suspended the punishment of theft “Cutting hands of the thieves” which is from Hudud in time of a famine because poverty pushed the people to the edge. SO Hudud can be suspended sometimes specifically in hard times and in necessities.
Many Islamists echoed Abu El-Fotouh in the past few days.
Interestingly Abu El-Fotouh was not the only the public figure to speak about capital punishment abolishment last week.

Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights “NCHR” member and human rights activist Nasser Amin reminded people on how human rights activists in Egypt called for abolishing Capital punishment but bot the State and Islamists stood against that.

Amin added that both parties whether state or Islamists use capital punishment now whether as death sentences or political assassination against each other.
Nasser Amin was the only official working a state-related institution-“The National Council For Human rights” already to express his refusal to the execution of 6 men convicted in the Arab Sharkas case.

Surprisingly former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi also condemned the Arab Sharks execution. I have not seen this coming from his side.

“Death sentence is not the solution”
The Arab Sharkas case is truly controversial starting with the fact that we are speaking about civilians standing a trial in front of a military court with one degree of appeal unlike the civilian judiciary which got two degrees of appeals. There is also a disturbing fact the families of three convicted men in the case say that

Personally I have mixed thoughts about capital punishment , there are some criminals especially war criminals sometimes I believe that they should be executed and other times I believe keeping them stuck between four walls for the rest of their lives is the best punishment. The matter is truly puzzling for me but of course what is happening now in Egypt calls for the suspension of capital punishment.

Speaking about abolishing or at least suspending it in Egypt temporarily is another a sign of changing times considering that this is a taboo.
BY the way the mainstream media does not speak about that change now and totally ignores it. Already Egyptian newspapers cheers for the executions of Arab Sharks cell as “revenge” for the murder of three Judges and their drivers in North Sinai. Yes the newspapers use the word “revenge” when it should call for the state of law that should ensure in perfect circumstances justice.


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  1. Does Egypt still want international investors to come to Egypt and put their capital at risk there? The Egyptian judiciary is destroying the reputation of Egypt. The apparent lack of judicial independence, as well as the absurd sentences handed down against political opposition, human rights activists, journalists and students are harming any hope of international investment, except the corruptly negotiated large contracts that will not benefit the local economy or citizens.
    Wake up Egyptians!

    I hope I will see an end to the political polarization of Egyptians soon. Reality has been suspended for long enough. Start questioning the myths and fear being spread by the Egyptian government and media. All political philosophies and views need a space to debate their visions and plans for the future of Egypt. The government is currently promoting violence in the name of stability. Violence begets violence. Nothing good will come of normalizing the use of violence by the government against citizens. Egyptians are better than this.

    I have met international businessmen who are now afraid to travel to Cairo let alone invest there. They are not afraid of violence, they are afraid of the government corruption and the judiciary. They are afraid of the influence of Egyptian business elite's corrupting influence on government.

    If Egyptians want international investments, they need to create an independent judiciary that appears competent and just.

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