Monday, December 26, 2005

Political Tribunals: Will they ever end?

Although I was never a supporter of the presidential candidacy of Ayman Nour, and I still am not, I have no choice but to join the condemnation against his imprisonment.

I haven't been following his trial and I don't know whether he did commit this fraud which he is charged with or not...but as one commentator in a newspaper put it: if he should be tried for committing fraud, then the ruling regime should be put under trial for committing fraud for the past 24 years. But since obviously this isn't happening, then this is all the proof needed that this is a politically motivated case.

In the fifties and sixties of this last century, Egyptian intellectuals and activists were sent to prison by Mahkemit el Digwi, or the Digwi Tribunal, named after the government-sponsored "judge" who presided over their hearings. Theirs was a sure sentence. Back then the leftists among them were accused of being Soviet lackeys. Today, Nour is sent to prison by the same judge who previously sentenced Saad el Din Ibrahim, who was eventually acquitted by another court after spending considerable time in prison. These last two are smeared today as "Western lackeys".

So much has changed since then and yet so little has changed. As long as Egyptian citizens don't feel protected by a legal system which will protect them from political tribunals and personal vendettas from higher authorities, then I don't see a reason why anybody should feel safe expressing his opinion in this country. Until then nobody can solidly feel that things have really changed.

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