Former Presidential hopeful Khaled Ali sat down with Egypt Independent and expressed his views about the current political situation, namely the constitution, the protest law and reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ali, a prominent lawyer and political activist, expressed that the constitution recently amended was not appropriate for Egypt as it allows legislators to draft rights and freedoms. He also expressed his disappointment in the article allowing military trials for civilians. Ali stressed that protests are a right that should not endanger the lives of protesters, which the new protest law does as he argues it justifies killing protesters in some instances. Finally, he added that reconciliation with the Brotherhood is inevitable as the government will one day have to reconcilate with all citizens and treat them all equally.
Constitution campaigns have already started, even before approving it. Will this motivate Egyptians to pass the constitution and achieve stability?
Since the breakout of the revolution, a considerable part of society has paid bitter price for the Egyptian political conflict. Factories, workshops and companies have closed. Workers have been laid off. A big part of employees at tourism sector have been laid off. A significant segment is worried about their social and economic situations. They are able to end the differences on constitution referendum, whatever its texts were, to achieve its dream of achieving stability.
Do you think the situation will settle down in the case constitution passes?
Unfortunately, no. The constitutional declaration issued by the military council, which was followed by the Muslim Brotherhood constitution, did not lead the country toward stability. The constitution should be a contract of social justice to express social consensus, to balance between the state authorities and to guarantee rights and freedoms of people.
How do you the constitution regarding the wording?
The draft that I reviewed is inappropriate for Egypt. I wish it wouldn’t have been written in the traditional way, ignoring the modern school which put an end to the era of authorizing the legislator to draft the rights and freedoms. It will not survive. For instance, Brazil’s constitution stipulated protection of workers’ wages in 29 paragraphs.
Do you accept bringing civilians to military trials as stated in the draft constitution?
This cannot be accepted by all means. Many countries like Sweden, Austria and Germany ban military trials. Military trials are for military personnel even if it was against armed forces. Civilians should be brought to normal judiciary not military.
What’s the nature of military judiciary?
Military judiciary is special for military personnel. The military commander should accept the verdict. He can ratify or lighten the ruling. He can also order retrial.
What do you think of the new protest law adopted by the president recently?
The protest law aims at restricting the right to protest and penalizing whoever practices it. It would justify killing him in some instances.
Are there special standards to deal with protests?
Of course. I got a judicial verdict from the State Council under the Muslim Brotherhood rule which ordered referring article no.102 of police law, which allowed police use of arms while dispersing protests, to the Supreme Constitutional Court. The ruling stated standards of protests dispersal and its mechanisms. It stressed necessity that police apply the law without confiscating rights. Police should not be granted permission to kill under the name of protest dispersal.
And what are these standards?
There are several standards, on the top of which is not to humiliate the protester or unjustifiably assault him or her. Whoever practices this right, his life should not be endangered. While the new law restricts rights of gathering, staging sit-ins, strikes, marches and protests. It permits police to kill and makes it a judge and enemy at the same time.
How does it restrict gathering?
Yes. If I invited more than 10 people to my house to discuss an issue about my village, it should be a ‘personal invitation’? Penalty code applies. We could all be brought to trial.
Could the law be attributed to necessity to keep the production?
Any law has social role. There is a suitable timing for applying it. It’s unreasonable to ban the practice of these rights under the revolutionary situations. This is imagination. If you constitutionally recognize the right to strike, how do you penalize whoever hampers production then considering this violation against the protest law, although striking at work means stopping work which will lead consequently to hampering production. We are facing mentality that deals in a mighty and deluded way. It thinks that oppression establishes stability, being the easy way. However, \ security will not take place without justice and responding to social demands.
Was the law targeted to oppress the Muslim Brotherhood or all people?
The Brotherhood members are faltering since ouster of Morsy. But the law targets all social and political groups.
Is the law different from its previous ones?
You know, the gathering law issued in 1914, before founding the League of Nations or issuance of Human Rights Universal Declaration, stated the maximum penalty is six-month imprisonment, while the current law’s penalty reaches seven years.
Do you support reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood?
At some moment, there will be no escape from reconciliation with all citizens, but with conditions that guarantee justice, penalty and that measures apply to everyone without discrimination. This applies to whoever committed crime since Mubarak until now, not only the Muslim Brotherhood. When the law is applied to those out of the regime, it has no value. People who are part of authority always escape penalty.
Some people reject reconciliation with the Brotherhood claiming it’s a terrorist group?
We should know that no one will get rid of specific faction. It’s not beneficial. Accusing a whole faction of terrorism is illogic. Although the Muslim Brotherhood committed dictatorial inhumane practices when they were ruling, revolution erupted against them. Now they are not in office. We should not make the same mistakes that we opposed them for, or what would be the difference between them and us.
How do you see the post-interim period scenarios?
It’s difficulty lies in social, not political, conflict. Whoever can provide and guarantee demands will achieve security.
When would a third revolution erupt?
In case the current regime failed to guarantee the urgent social demands that are related to social security.
Can you send two messages to the Muslim Brotherhood and current regime?
The Brotherhood should perform self-criticism and allows new leaders take decisions to restore what it missed. The current regime should not believe that vanity of power achieves stability, or else it will fall quickly and protests will be staged against it faster that what you believe.
Are you going to run for president?
What occupies me now is how to confront policies of impoverishment and social marginalization, adopted by the state. Talks about any elections is too early, that’s why I did not make my decision. The possibility that I do not run for the coming presidential elections is as much as possibility of running for elections. I will not take or declare my decision before end of constitution referendum and parliamentary elections.