When Grand Muftis Become Puppets of Dictators…
The volatile political climate in Egypt has been quick to sift out those who are easily influenced by power, and grand Mufti Shawki Allam has easily fallen prey, writes Dr Aayesha J Soni.
Ola Alaa, an 18-year-old medical student in Egypt, along with 20 other young women and girls, was initially jailed and sentenced to 11 years in prison for staging a peaceful street protest in 2013. Gamal Eid, a human rights activist, said the sentences against the female protesters had been politically motivated, stating that “There is no independent judiciary in Egypt”. After the ousting of the first democratic and freely elected president of Egypt in history, Muhammed Morsi, this is the commonplace scene that unfolds amongst ordinary citizens. Abuse of power that has seen authorities imprisoning tens of thousands, protests effectively banned in the streets of the entire nation, opposition groups having been completely outlawed, hundreds sentenced to death in unfair trials and global documentation of the massacre of thousands of civilians in the streets by the government. Such a description would usually conjure up the image of a nation in desperate need of intervention; a nation crumbling under authoritarian rule and a ruthless dictator. While the West would have us believe that Egypt is flourishing under General Abdel Fatah-al-Sisi, the truth is that Egypt is in crisis-mode under his iron fist strangulation.
In its report released in May 2015, the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) stated that violence in Egypt had resulted in about 2,600 deaths. The authorities had detained, charged, and sentenced at least 41,000 people in Egypt, often on fabricated claims and accusations. 1813 death sentences have been meted out in 3 years by a farcical judicial system and the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, an independent group, documented 256 deaths in custody, with 209 detainees having died due to medical negligence since al-Sisi took office in June 2014. At time of writing, no government official or member of the security forces had been charged for the killing of at least 817 protesters in Cairo’s Rab’a al-Adawiya Square on August 14, 2013—a likely crime against humanity. It was also reported that police regularly used torture in their investigations.
With a track record that has abolished all the freedoms and rights that the Egyptian people won through the 2011 revolution, Sisi has proven to be far worse than the dictator they fought so valiantly to overthrow, Hosni Mubarak. The democratically elected party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its leader Morsi languish in jail as Sisi’s government is legitimised by Western powers and the Egyptian population is left to be forsaken to yet another brute.
While popular opinion would have us believe Morsi was overthrown in the military coup of 2013 by an overwhelming majority in his country, scientific polling data provide better indications of popular support. According to the only credible scientific polling data available (Pew Research) on the topic, Morsi had more than 50% of support amongst Egyptians before the coup and has maintained a support rating of more than 40% in the coup’s aftermath. On June 16, a criminal court sentenced Morsi and 114 others to death. Human Rights Watch found that prosecutors presented no evidence to substantiate the security officials’ testimony and that the case appeared to be politically motivated. However, this was largely ignored and there has been little international outcry at the grotesque injustice of such a move.
Within Egypt’s own borders, however, the volatile political climate has been quick to sift out those who are easily influenced by power, and Egypt’s grand Mufti Shawki Allam has fallen prey. In a move that has served to expose his desperate attempt at being approved of by Sisi’s dictatorial regime, Allam recently passed a fatwa (ruling) declaring Morsi’s death sentence as lawful. Out of 50 death orders that were presented to him for ratification, Allam approved 45- including the one against Morsi. Basing his ruling on trials that were deemed “grossly unfair” by Amnesty International, Allam forewent not only his religious obligations and duties, but his ethics, morals and principles too and any credibility he might have had has been wholly compromised in one single move. Allam has been exposed to be a hypocrite, and let alone fit to hold the title as prestigious as that of Grand Mufti, is unfit for any title or association with values and morals.
It has been communicated to us that Allam is scheduled to visit South Africa soon, and this serves as a clear and unapologetic proclamation: dictators and all their cowardly supporters can expect no welcome in a country like South Africa. Under international criminal law and the Nuremburg principles, judges who abuse their offices and juridical authority and became instrumentalities for the perpetuation of war crimes and crimes against humanity are also guilty of these crimes and may be tried and convicted. Just as Sisi was forced to inevitably postpone his trip to South Africa last year when SA lawyers (under the Muslim Lawyers Association) filed an official legal request for his arrest against his countless crimes against humanity, so will Allam face a similar hostile reception. South Africans do not entertain leaders who insist on violating the basic human rights and freedoms of their citizens, nor those who vow on endorsing such injustice! Egypt is in dire need of solidarity against the disease that is corruption, gross injustice and unlawful dictatorship that has consumed it and it is our moral obligation to do so.
Dr Aayesha Soni
Vice- Chairperson: MEDIA REVIEW NETWORK