Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Anticipating Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation

Adel Maged
Adel Maged

President Sisi has been elected, and everyone wonders what will be next. Will he continue the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, as indicated? What does it mean that the Salafi Nour Party is backing him? Is Sisi an Islamist-of-sorts himself? Is he a dictator in the making? Does his presidency herald a coming liberal era?

For these answers one must wait and see. But beyond the obvious divide that exists in Egypt lies one reality: The constitution obliges parliament to issue a law on transitional justice in its first session. Having suffered – or celebrated – the fall of two presidents in three years, political frustrations exist among many. Far beyond frustrations, many are dead due to political violence. Few have been held accountable.

Transitional justice promises much; in theory and often in international practice it leads to national reconciliation. Will it in Egypt?

Again, one must wait and see. But ‘Adil Mājid, vice-president of the Egyptian Court of Cassation and an honorary professor of law at the UK’s Durham University, is one with a vision. In July 2013 he wrote an article putting forward the requirements of national reconciliation at a time the concept was first discussed after the fall of Mursī.

I have translated his article here, published at Arab West Report.

A year later, Mājid is very critical of early efforts, but is hopeful that with a new president and coming parliament, the groundwork is better laid. Though obstacles remain, in an interview he described his hope for transitional justice given current realities, in the framework of his earlier article.

This vision is given here, also at Arab West Report.

Of course, even worthy endeavors like transitional justice and national reconciliation can be employed for less than worthy ends. Mājid is well aware of this possibility. But in answering the questions posed above about the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism, dictatorship, and a liberal era, a key indicator to watch will be how it is used, worthily or otherwise. Will it heal the nation, or hurt it further?

Please read the linked reports for indications from a respected expert. Then watch carefully, and judge accordingly. Justice and reconciliation are concepts to be respected, necessary for the well-being of any nation. May they be pursued with truth and transparency.


Friday Prayers for Egypt: New Government, Again

Flag Cross Quran


Amid continuing demonstrations by Islamists and supporters of President Morsi, the new Egyptian government is trying to get down to business. What that business should be is another matter.

They must rerun the election process. The country needs a constitution, parliament, and president, laws to set them in motion, and a campaign to convince the public it is worth their while to vote. Many are understandably skeptical.

They must solve the quandary of the economy. Newly received monies from the Gulf will buy some time, but the challenges Morsi could not solve will not go away. Maintain mountains of inefficient subsidies and the nation will go broke; eliminate them and the nation will buckle under.

They must achieve national reconciliation with a divided population. Most obvious are Islamists horrified by the turn of events, but in the background are old regime supporters demonized the past two years, and revolutionaries horrified by the reentry of the military. How can all these find common cause?

And within these three, God, they must prioritize. Perhaps it can also be said they must truly pursue each one – many doubt the rhetoric.

God, Egypt has been spinning its wheels, and a new set of men – some recycled – get at chance of getting things right. Help them, even as many argue over their legitimacy to be there in the first place.

Help them to amend the constitution to the approval of all, setting the rules of the game with fairness and equity. Encourage the people; help them to grasp the reins of government and not cede it idly through frustration.

Help them to make the hard decisions to put Egypt’s economy on solid footing. Give them wisdom for how that can be done, and wisdom on how to communicate it to the people. If sacrifices must be made, may they result in the betterment of the poor, the industrious, and the average man.

Help them to be humble with critics from all angles. What is reconciliation, God? Why should the Muslim Brotherhood engage again, except perhaps to win again and govern even more exclusively? Surely reconciliation is not this, nor is it their exclusion from the process. Help the Brotherhood, also, to be humble and recognize their mistakes and ambition. But whatever reconciliation is, it cannot be without all parties involved. For two years, God, they failed to come together; help them all to do so now.

Otherwise, God, we may soon see another government attempt all the above, again.

Whether them, this one, or any to come, God, give Egypt success.