Very sad developments are taking place in Egypt. Killing people or inciting people to engage in violence – making them responsible for multiple murders – are serious charges in any country. Yet, can anyone point to court cases anywhere in the world where 528 people were sentenced to death during a short trial? Can that trial be compatible with the notion of justice irrespective of how heinous the crime the suspects of that trial were accused of?
This was definitely the product of a political trial and all attempts to reconcile it with the universal values of law are futile. The Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan-i Muslimin has long been accused by the coup administration of Egypt as a criminal gang. Had the coup failed or if the coup had not taken place, perhaps the Ikhwan and the Mohammad Morsi government of Egypt would be equally cruel to the Egyptians expressing discontent with the country being hijacked by Islamist fundamentalism. That was indeed one of the reasons why many countries, unlike Turkey’s Islamist government, did not react much to the coup in Egypt, and preferred to tame it with the hope of directing it toward legitimacy and moderation.
Alas, the coup regime in Cairo proved to be even worse than the Ikhwan and Morsi. Declaring the Ikhwan illegal, trying to eradicate an organization that has been active in Egypt and in most parts of the Arab world since 1928 and killing almost the entire top echelon of the movement through a court order serves, unfortunately, only to pour more fuel on the fire and turn Egypt into an even bigger fireplace.
Naturally, as someone opposed to the death penalty in principle out of an understanding that a penalty must be corrective in nature, not exterminatory, it is difficult to understand the logic behind the hundreds of death verdicts that have been levied by the court. Right now, Egypt is passing through an extraordinary period, but at the end of the day, how can a state, a government and administration that vowed to put an end to the arbitrary rule of Morsi and bring legality and conformity with the law unleash such mass-death verdicts? Can such a mass-death verdict be anything but premeditated mass-murder?
The verdict against the 528 people cannot be executable, at least fully, because many of the defendants were not under arrest. The court, most probably acting on orders of the coup administration, has aimed at eradicating the Ikhwan. As such, the court verdict was nothing less than attempted genocide, which is a crime against humanity.
A revanchist understanding in governance cannot be sustainable in any part of the world because such administrations provoke revanchist counter campaigns against themselves. The “Man dakka dukka” of Turkey’s authoritarian leader often summarizes this reality, though he has been as well deeply involved in revanchist revenge obsessions. Still, in Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere, people continue to live through moments of mental eclipse and opt for vengeance, revenge and hostility, rather than cohabitation, tolerance and respect for differences.
The Muslim Brotherhood certainly was not, is not and will not be a democratic element. Wherever it might come to power, regression and darkness will prevail in that country. Yet, even such a dangerous group deserves justice because justice cannot be selectively and discriminately delivered.
Will tomorrow’s Egypt not suffer the fallout of today’s butchering of justice? Can the coup administration in Egypt comfortably claim justice prevailed and that tomorrow will be bright for Egypt and for those responsible for such a crime against humanity?