Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013
Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Outrage over judicial attack

An attack on the chairman of the Cairo Judges Club has stirred angry reactions, writes Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

After walking out of the downtown Cairo headquarters of the Cairo Judges Club on Sunday evening, club chairman Ahmed Al-Zend was assaulted by a group of protesters, leaving him with facial bruises and a cut under one of his eyes. Al-Zend was hospitalised soon afterwards, being kept in for observation for four hours.

The attack happened shortly after a meeting to discuss the newly appointed prosecutor-general, Talaat Abdallah, had ended. Abdallah’s appointment, made by President Mohamed Morsi, has aroused anger in judicial circles, causing a large number of prosecutors to suspend their work and to appeal to the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC).

The situation seemed to have been contained in the wake of Abdallah’s resignation on 17 December, but the calm did not last long, especially after Abdallah withdrew his resignation.

As Al-Zend was trying to get into his car on Sunday night, protesters began hurling stones at him, injuring him and damaging his car. Many other judges then came out of the club, managing to arrest three of the 15 attackers.

The three arrested assailants are Abdel-Rahman Eissa, a Palestinian national, Khaled Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian from the governorate of Gharbiya and Mahmoud Metwalli from Cairo.

“These childish acts will not hurt us, and we will fight such attempts to hijack the nation,” Al-Zend said in a press conference following the incident. In an interview on Dream TV, Al-Zend questioned the presence of non-Egyptians in the protests.

“If these protesters had been Egyptian, we could have understood why they had acted in this way. They may have had a cause for which they were fighting. But why would protesters of other nationalities organise a protest in front of the Judges Club. Who is behind them? Who sent them,” Al-Zend asked.

Speaking to ONTV, Eissa’s mother Zeinab Mohamed denied that her son was non-Egyptian, saying that he had been born in Egypt to an Egyptian mother and Palestinian father.

“My son is a student in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. He has never travelled either to Gaza or the West Bank. He was born and raised here in Egypt, but his father is Palestinian,” Mohamed said.

She added that both Eissa’s brother and sister had Egyptian nationality and that both had important jobs in governmental institutions.

Al-Zend is a staunch opponent of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Judges Club, which Al-Zend leads, had also voted overwhelmingly to boycott the judicial supervision of the recent referendum on the constitution. Al-Zend led a recent national strike by judges against Morsi’s constitutional declaration of 22 November.

“The judges have always defended the people’s rights and liberties and they do not conspire against anyone. They only publicly express their opinions to defend the rule of the law and the independence of the judiciary,” Al-Zend said, addressing hundreds of judges in the meeting shortly before the attack. 

Judge Abdallah Fathi, deputy chairman of the Judges Club, said that Egypt was not now under the rule of law, and political groups, especially Islamist ones, were using violence to promote their political agendas.

“The state is collapsing, and militias are being created in the shadows to silence the opposition. For the first time, extremists have been given the green light to attack the courts, lay siege to the media and attack the political parties. The government and the president are doing nothing but watch,” he added.

Reacting to what had happened, the SJC condemned the assault on Monday, expressing its outrage at attempts to target judges. On his twitter account, opposition leader Mohamed Al-Baradei said that the attack had increased a lack of trust in the state.

On Monday, the Justice Ministry issued a statement condemning attacks on courthouses, including sieges, sit-ins, protests and physical attacks on judges, insisting that such behaviour was unacceptable.

The statement also called on all parties to work to preserve the prestige of the judiciary and to keep it out of political debates. “The ministry will continue to exert tremendous efforts to heal the rifts between the judges through negotiations,” the statement said.

George Ishak, a member of the National Salvation Front, said that the attack on Al-Zend was the beginning of attacks on opposition leaders and public figures opposing the Islamists.

“Throughout their history, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups have used physical attacks to achieve their political goals. This is a form of extremism,” he said. Ishak added that the presence of a Palestinian among the assailants had indicated that the Brotherhood “regime” might be using foreign elements to do its “dirty works and curb the opposition”.

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