Brotherhood ...aims to destroy the state and replace it with a Muslim
Tahrir Square is no longer an expression of the Egyptian people, or its
Muslim Brotherhood want to carry out counter-revolution - Egyptian judge
23/06/2012 By Mohamed Abdou Hasseinein
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an exclusive interview conducted with Asharq
Al-Awsat, Judge Tahani El-Gabali, Vice President of Egypt’s Supreme
Constitutional Court, discussed the court’s decision to dissolve Egypt’s
parliament, the supplementary constitutional declaration which handed many
powers to Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] and the
expected results of Egypt’s presidential election.
Tahani El-Gabali was the first female Egyptian judge, being appointed to the
judiciary by former president Mubarak in 2003. She graduated from Cairo
University’s Faculty of Law in 1973, and has worked in commercial, civic,
criminal and family law. She has defended a number of high profile cases
throughout her career, including the case of the January 1977 Bread Riots,
amongst others. She also handled a number of prominent labor rights and
women’s rights cases. She currently serves as the Vice President of Egypt’s
Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority in the country.
The following is the text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] A number of political and revolutionary powers, led by the
Muslim Brotherhood, have announced their rejection of the decision taken by
SCAF to dissolve Egypt’s People’s Assembly. What is your view of this
[El-Gabali] Firstly, we must look more closely at this group, for it is an
overestimation to describe this group as a political “power”. It would be
more accurate to describe it as a group of individuals, for it does not
represent any segment of [Egyptian] society. Therefore we must view the
situation correctly, namely that those refusing this ruling are the Muslim
Brotherhood, and the Islamist trend that support them, as well as some
general figures, and, of course, they are all welcome to their personal
opinions. This group has been brought together by their decision to deviate
from what is right, and this represents a direct violation of the legitimacy
of the Egyptian state, which is something that is not subject to bargaining.
Indeed, this group’s actions do not represent political bargaining, but
rather an attack targeting the institutes of the state. I believe that the
Brotherhood are deceiving this group in order to defend its approach which
aims to destroy the state and replace it with a Muslim Brotherhood one.
Whether they are aware of this or not, this is the reality on the ground,
because the Supreme Constitutional Court’s ruling is valid…therefore this
issue is not a question of agreement or objection. The same goes for the
powers granted to SCAF, as the ruling authority that has been in charge of
national affairs over the past 18 months, which also issued the interim
constitutional announcements which led to the elections of the dissolved
parliament. This means that SCAF has every right to take decisions regarding
general national affairs, and therefore the views of these forces are not
binding; not to SCAF and not to the Egyptian people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Those rejecting the Supreme Constitutional Court’s
decision are claiming that it has overstepped its authority, in the sense
that whilst it can issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the elections,
it has no authority to dissolve parliament. What is your view?
[El-Gabali] The decision of the Supreme Constitutional Court was not to
dissolve parliament, but to rule that this parliament was unconstitutional,
because it had no constitutional basis. This unconstitutionality carries
over to the mechanism of how this parliament was chosen. There are legal
precedents for this issue, namely 5 legal precedents, which confirm the
unconstitutionality of Egypt’s People’s Assembly, from its first session.
This unconstitutionality therefore also affects the decisions and laws that
have been issued. The power of constitutional rule is derived from the
constitution, whilst unconstitutionality represents a state of
illegality…and it is Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court that decides this,
whilst the decisions of this court are binding on all state authorities. I
think that the Muslim Brotherhood has incited all this confusion in order to
protect its political gains, whilst it does not respect the independence of
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does the decision to dissolve Egypt’s People’s Council
also apply to the Shura Council?
[El-Gabali] The dissolution of the Shura Council is subject to appeal or the
political will of the people. The Shura Council is subject to the same
issues as the People’s Council, particularly as it is a complementary body
to the legislative council and it has a limited role. Therefore, if the
original body no longer exists, perhaps the branch also no longer has a
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some people have put forward the idea of ignoring the
court ruling and holding parliamentary sessions outside of parliament, after
the armed forces prevented MPs from entering Egypt’s parliament. What is the
likelihood of this happening?
[El-Gabali] This is certainly false.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The Muslim Brotherhood has announced that its candidate,
Mohamed Mursi, has won the presidential elections, however we are all still
waiting for the official results. What is the legality of this?
[El-Gabali] This is a transgression of the will of the Egyptian people, and
this is most dangerous, for until now the official results of the Egyptian
presidential elections have not been announced to allow us to know who is
the winner and loser. Therefore this is an attempt to anticipate the results
and hijack the legitimacy of the state and violate the sanctity of the
Egyptian people. I believe that the announcement of Mursi’s victory is an
attempt to violate the sanctity of the Egyptian state, because revolutions
may topple ruling regimes, but they do not destroy states; everybody must
understand that the Egyptian state is not a piece of bread to be eaten.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You previously spoke about a Muslim Brotherhood “plot” to
destroy the country. What do you mean?
[El-Gabali] Certainly… what has been revealed so far includes transgression
of Egypt’s constitutional and legal rules which determines the powers and
remit of each institute or authority, and this is something that must be
exercised as part of a state based on the rule of law. We must ask
ourselves, is this a state based on the rule of law or not? I believe that
the answer to this question will clarify the bigger picture.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How can SCAF confront the Muslim brotherhood’s plans?
Where will such a confrontation lead?
[El-Gabali] I cannot speak on behalf of SCAF, and I am not authorized to
speak about its decisions or responses, but all that is required is a
rational reading of the statement issued by SCAF yesterday, for each line of
this statement reflects its commitment and historic responsibility towards
the management of the Egyptian state during this current period.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The Muslim Brotherhood’s political coalition – led by
Mursi – has announced its refusal to take the oath of office in front of the
Supreme Constitutional Court, as called for by the supplementary
constitutional declaration. What is your view of this?
[El-Gabali] This is part of the inviolability of a state based on the rule
law. We have never seen a presidential candidate who would take part in an
election in light of a specific constitution and law…and then should he be
elected would want to choose the body that he takes the oath of office
before. This is new to us, in terms of the rules in force in a state based
on the rule of law!
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What if the next presidency swears the oath of office in
Tahrir Square, as some people are calling for?
[El-Gabali] This is a “folkloric image”. The Egyptian people know that they
have a state, and this state must be respected, otherwise we are looking at
charges of treason.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The Muslim Brotherhood are using the justification that
they do not recognize the supplementary constitutional declaration that was
issued by SCAF, calling for a referendum on this. Do you think there should
be a national referendum on this?
[El-Gabali] They do not recognize the Egyptian state, in itself! Was there a
referendum on the previous constitutional announcement that called for
parliamentary elections, and which resulted in an Islamist parliamentary
majority? Why should there be a referendum on this supplementary
constitutional declaration? This is an irrational demand, particularly as
all these [constitutional] announcements are temporary, and the final
decision will be decided by the new constitutional, and there should be a
national referendum on this. We must remember that it was the Muslim
Brotherhood who were the major obstacles to the issuance of this
constitution in the early days of the transitional phase.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about Egypt’s squares and streets that are
overflowing with millions of demonstrators, protesting against the
supplementary constitutional declaration and the dissolution of parliament?
Don’t these protests represent the true will of the Egyptian people?
[El-Gabali] Firstly, I do not think Egypt’s streets and squares are
overflowing. Tahrir Square, during the Egyptian revolution, served as the
conscience of the Egyptian people, however today it is the epitome of
political pluralism, and if those in Tahrir Square left, they would be
replaced by others with a different view. So Tahrir Square is no longer an
expression of the Egyptian people, or its collective demands.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In light of this congested atmosphere…do you expect a
continuation of the political roadmap and for power to be handed over at the
end of the current month?
[El-Gabali] This depends on what the committee supervising the elections
decides with regards to the presidential election results, and the presence
of violations, and whether any such violations have prejudiced the
collective vote of the Egyptian people, and what could be done in this case.
However, I personally believe that the issue will be decided within the
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The Muslim Brotherhood have said that if their candidate,
Mohamed Mursi, does not win the vote, this would mean the inevitable
outbreak of a second revolution. To what extent is this possible?
[El-Gabali] Any new revolution will be a revolution carried out by the
Muslim Brotherhood, not the Egyptian people, and this would be to grab power
and the state. This would not be an Egyptian popular revolution, which
remains the 25 January revolution, which was seeking a modern, democratic
state based on a constitution and laws, for the sake of freedom, human
dignity and social justice. As for the Brotherhood, they want to carry out a
counter-revolution against this revolution, in order to implement the dream
of [Muslim Brotherhood founder] Hassan al-Banna.