I would struggle with a premise like this in a novel, be accused of absurdity and judged for having an unrealistic plot. Still, that’s what happened yesterday in Egypt. A judge, Saeed Yosuf Sabry, sentenced 528 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death in a trial that only lasted two days. They stand accused of murdering two policemen. I imagine if 500 people really wanted to kill two people, and ensure the blame falls on all of them, they’d find it a very strenuous thing to do. Maybe if they each took a bite.
Needless to say, in the two days the trial took, the defence attorneys had no time to review evidence, cross-examine witnesses, or to generally lawyer at all.
Someone either extremely sarcastic or genuinely idiotic observed on CNN that:”Egyptians were so cool when all they did was build pyramids; now they are savages.” I’m starting to think the men who built the pyramids were hired help from somewhere else. Or, you know, slaves. We appear to be exceptionally talented in being ruled by tyrants, and equally innovative in justifying it.
It’s worth noting that our esteemed irreproachable judiciary system has a habit of doing this very same thing throughout recent history. They are completely out of touch with humanity, completely devoid of integrity, and completely subservient to the regime. These are two examples highlighting extraordinary bias:
Death sentence to Al-Bakry(البقري) and Khamis(خميس)
On the 12th of August, 1952, after the coup of 1952 by the Free Officers, the workers of Kafr Al-Dawar organised a sit-in to protest the working conditions. The sit-in and the factory were surrounded by tanks. The second day, 576 workers were arrested, among them children aged 10 years old. Two days later 545 were released, and 29 were to be executed, but only two were chosen, Khamis and Al-Bakry.
Here are the absurdities of the trial:
- The trial of 576 workers lasted only two days.
- Most workers didn’t get to be represented by a lawyer.
- Some prosecutors investigated more than 100 defendants a day for counts the punishment of which is death.
- M.Khamis was accused of Communism.(Remember, 1952, that was a crime.)
- 1500 workers were assembled in a stadium to hear the death sentence being issued to their two fellow workers.
- The officer reading the verdict said that M.Khamis was fighting Allah and his Prophet, and deserved to die.
It’s worth noting that the Muslim Brotherhood at the time issued a statement supporting the verdict, and accusing M.Khamis and Bakry of treason. This isn’t to say “So they deserve what’s happening to them now” or some other comment about Karma, but to tell the whole picture, because they were as much to blame then, as whoever is supporting this verdict now.
The Dinshway Incident:
This is a famous incident that happened in 1906. At the time, Egypt was under British occupation. Five British soldiers, accompanied by an Egyptian officer, were hunting pigeons in the Egyptian village of Dinshway when they, perhaps accidentally, shot at domestic pigeons belonging to the villagers and injured a woman. Villagers were enraged and surrounded the soldiers, who fired at them, then surrendered while two of them escaped. One of the soldiers who escaped died of a heatstroke while the other reached his base and brought reinforcements. A villager, who was helping the heat stricken soldier, was killed when British soldiers saw him by the body.
92 villagers were put to trial for murder. Four were executed, two received life sentences with hard labour, and twenty six received various sentences and were flogged.
Here are the absurdities of the trial:
- The judges were Botros Ghali, who later became prime minister, and Ahmad Zaghloul, brother of the famous Saad Zaghloul. Both Egyptians.
- The Egyptian police official accompanying the soldiers to the village did not confirm their story, which was that they only injured the woman by mistake. He testified in court that after the woman had been shot, the alarmed officers had fired twice more on the surging mob. For his testimony, he was stood down, and a court of discipline sentenced him to two years imprisonment and fifty lashes.
- Al-Helbawy, the prosecutor, said: “Those low-life, vile people of Dinshway met the kind manners of the English officers with sticks and clubs, making the occupiers think badly of the Egyptians after the English spent 25 years with us, and we are with them on sincerity and straightness.”
- He also said: “The English occupation of Egypt liberated the Egyptian citizen and elevated him, educating him on the principles of social duties and civil rights.”
- One of the villagers, Hassan Mahfouz, was executed in front of his house.
It’s worth noting that Botros Ghali was assassinated four years later, and the defence attorney for his assassin was Al-Helbawy himself! He stated that he wants to atone for his sins in the Dinshway incident, by defending the killer of the Judge who handed the death sentences. History sometimes has the strangest twists.
I know every judiciary system has it’s flops, and one can find them with a little research, but ours is so consistently corrupt that it’s hard to find shining examples at times.
The name of the Judge who sentenced 528 people to death yesterday is Saeed Yusof Sabry.
It’s worth noting that only a week or so earlier, 3 officers who stand accused of Gassing 37 to death, in a prison transport car(they shot tear gas inside, and locked the doors and windows from the outside) were sentenced to only one year suspended sentences. This means they won’t spend one day in prison.
I write this article while the riot police are shooting gas cannisters inside the faculty to disperse a protest organised by Students Against The Coup, who are generally MB supporters protesting yesterday’s verdict. Life is wonderful in Egypt.