Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim: Egypt’s three sacred cows

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Thu, 2014-09-11
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Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim: Egypt’s three sacred cows


AWR, Cairo, September 11, 2014


Research intern Diana Serôdio met twice with Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim [S’ad Al-Dīn Ibrahīm], one of Egypt's leading human rights and democracy activists, and a strong critic of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and founder of the Ibn Khaldun Center in 1988. He was arrested in 2000 and sentenced to prison for defaming Egypt. The Court of Cassation acquitted him of all charges in 2003. In August 2008 he was sentenced again to two years again for the defamation of Egypt, after which he left the country and appealed the ruling. Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim returned to Egypt in 2010 and continues working for the Ibn Khaldun Center.


The interview discusses the Constitution, the Protest Law and the new NGO law which is under preparation.



Source: qantara.de


Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim believes the Committee of Legal Experts, also known as the ‘Committee of Ten’, had a tremendous influence on the formation of the Constitution of 2014. They prepared the draft that went to the Constituent Assembly (also known as ‘the Committee of Fifty’), which discussed the draft in detail. After that, the draft text which the Committee of Fifty had voted on returned to the Committee of Ten to be finalized. Thus, in Ibrahim’s view, the greatest influence on the 2014 Constitution was by the Committee of Ten.

Dr. Saad Eddin spoke also about the lack of transparency in Egypt which he believed to be an endemic problem.


For the transcript of the interview conducted on July 16 please click here.


Diana Serôdio met Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim a second time, this time with research intern Omar Ali. Dr. Saad Eddin spoke about the ‘three sacred cows’ in Egypt – the judiciary, the military and internal security. They are sacred because no one would dare to question them and they have secured the regulation of their own institutions without external oversight. Dr. Saad Eddin describes these institutions as the “deep state” i.e. the deeply imbedded institutions.


“The constitution does not only have several articles designed to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but it also gives the judiciary a political role. In the case of a vacuum, for example: if the president, vice president dies or disappears, or was disabled, it is the head of the Constitutional Court who takes over,” Ibrahim explained.


He believes that security needs to be reformed, but not through European calls for penalizing actions against Egypt. With other Egyptian civil society activists, Dr. Eddin travelled to Brussels and told Catherine Ashton that “instead of being part of the problem, the EU could be part of the solution” i.e. helping Egypt to train insufficiently trained security and police officials to help them improve and carry out their duties in a better way.


Egypt’s three sacred cows now have self-regulatory procedures, but Saad Eddin Ibrahim believes that once the Parliament is in place, Parliamentary commissions need to play a role in overseeing these institutions.


For the transcript of the July 22 interview please click here.



Cornelis Hulsman

Editor-in-chief Arab-West Report