State Council ‘dragging the country backwards’

The State Council’s refusal to allow women to be judges in the council is a potentially dangerous twist, one that could indicate the State Council’s future rejection of Christian judges being appointed to the council, threatening the very foundations of the modern civil state.

Mahmoud el-Attar, vice president of the State Council, said he rejected the appointment of women to the council because of the large number of cases. He denied that the decision was in any way influenced by Salafist ideas.

Meanwhile, Yehia Ragheb Dakrouri, president of the State Council club and vice president of the State Council, said, when explaining why women should be excluded, that the job of a State Council judge is like that of a "ruler".

Dakrouri said that his position is based on a consensus among scholars and the basics of the Islamic Sharia. He added that for women to work as judges would violate certain Islamic rules on regulating private meetings between men and women. He added that in this field, prolonged private meetings between male and female judges would be common.

Dakrouri went on to say that the appointment of women judges would also violate Article 2 of the Constitution.

But in my opinion members of the State Council should not have the right to interpret Article 2 of the Constitution, since that is the exclusive right of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Besides, the Egyptian Constitution states that all citizens have equal rights and duties and that there should be no discrimination between them based on gender, origin, language, religion or creed.

Rejecting the appointment of women on a religious pretext also contradicts the principles of citizenship laid out by Article 1 of the Constitution.

All the talk about how pregnancy and breastfeeding interfere with the progress of lawsuits and diminish the prestige of the judiciary is just funny. I had not thought the repected members of the State Council would reiterate such ideas.

In the French judiciary, women outnumber their fellow male judges, so I was just wondering if our men-only council is better than the French judiciary, whose women get pregnant and lactate?

The council members forget that there are more than 10,000 female judges in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Yemen. Women even head the Court of Cassation in Tunisia and work as general attorneys in Syria.

Egypt itself has 42 female judges working in the criminal, civil, economic and family courts.

It was Aisha Rateb who first submitted a request to become a judge in the State Council back in 1951 after she graduated from studying law. Her request was turned down, and so she appealed to the State Council itself.

At that time, Abdel Razeq el-Sanhouri passed a ruling that said there was no constitutional, legal or religious reason preventing women from being appointed to the judiciary. He said the matter was up to the state to decide whether it was "appropriate" for women to serve as judges.

Fifty-nine years later, State Council members still believe it’s not "appropriate" to have women serve as judges.

We can’t leave the destiny of the country to be decided by 334 State Council members, as they seem to be dragging the country backwards for their own ideological or other reasons.

I’m all for the independence of the judiciary, but such independence also implies that it shouldn’t be influenced by powers and trends that seek to abuse it to tear down the modern civil state.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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