“We [judges] are the masters and the rest are the slaves” is indeed the most memorable quote by Egypt’s new Justice Minister Ahmed Al-Zind, head of the Judges’ Club. The rest of this sentence as said by Al-Zind during a phone interview on a TV show was: “Whatever represents an attack on the Judiciary’s prestige, dignity and respect will not pass lightly. On the land of this nation, we are the masters and the rest are the slaves…whoever burns a judge’s photo will have his heart, his memory and his shadow burned from Egypt’s land.”
This man was sworn in as minister of justice Wednesday morning, after his predecessor resigned following public outrage at a classist statement about garbage collectors’ sons being unfit to occupy the position of a judge. Whatever he said was much milder than Al-Zind’s for that matter, and appointing Al-Zind is viewed by many as a statement being made by the rulers of this country.
Apart from classism, Al-Zind’s track record is quite rich with questionable quotes and stances. His nepotism is no secret, in 2012 and during a Judges’ Club conference, Al-Zind clearly stated that “we will not stop appointing sons of judges whether people like it or not. Sons of judges will be appointed every year, and there isn’t a power in Egypt that can stop this ‘holy march’ to the judiciary”. For Egyptians, it is never a surprise that a judge’s son would become a public prosecutor then a judge despite his failure as a student.
Our new justice minister is also known for his rejection of any calls to reform the judiciary, he has over the years rejected any suggestions that there is corruption within the judiciary. Such position made him the perfect man to stand against the judiciary reform movement during Mubarak’s era, at the behest of the fallen National Democratic Party, and this position remains standing till this day. Commenting on protests against the judiciary in 2011-2012, Al-Zind said “They [protesters] are the corrupt ones; they are the ones in need of reform”. Two months before the armed forces ousted Morsi, Al-Zind threatened to take the Muslim Brotherhood to the International Criminal Court for their protests calling to reform judiciary (!!).
His allegiance to the Mubarak regime and to the Armed Forces rule is non-questionable of course. During the 25 January revolution, Al-Zind attacked judges who joined in the protests, saying that “these judges do not represent the judiciary. Judges should not join the commons and the mob”. Later on in the months when the Supreme Council of Armed Forces ruled post-Mubarak, Al-Zind said that anyone who opposes SCAF is a “traitor”. Without a doubt, one of the fiercest opponents of the January revolution and everything it stands for.
An interesting man indeed. One should always remember that Al-Zind is also fond of lawsuits. There are numerous lawsuits filed by Al-Zind against people he claims are “insulting” him or the judiciary. And that includes his fellow judges, Judge Walid El-Shafei was referred to disciplinary committee after appearing on TV criticizing Mubarak’s regime figurers’ trials. El-Shafei also said that Mubarak’s trial was a sham, and that the current regime (Al-Sisi’s) is using the new Terrorism Courts to persecute its opponents. He went on to criticize Al-Zind and the Judges’ Club. Several other lawsuits were filed by Al-Zind in the past couple of years against public figures claiming they insulted him. Consequently he too faces such lawsuits. Former head of the Accountability State Authority, Hisham Geneina had filed a lawsuit against Al-Zind for insulting him. And so on and so forth!
But these are not the only type of issues related to Al-Zind. Pro-government newspaper Al-Ahram had published last year a report, with official documents, alleging that Al-Zind is involved in corruption. The paper said that the Judges’ Club (of which Al-Zind is head) had sold large pieces of land to one of Al-Zind’s in-laws. It is illegal to sell this land, as it is public property, on top of this it was sold for less than half its market price. Naturally, no investigations were opened, this is at the end of the day, the mighty and fierce Judge Ahmed Al-Zind.
This is precisely why our ruler decided to appoint Al-Zind as justice minister, he is mighty and fierce and loyal. If anyone could stop public outrage against the justice system in Egypt, Al-Zind is the best candidate to eliminate the opposition. Who else would willingly accept continuing on the current path of the judiciary but Al-Zind? Who else will be able to enforce harsher trials and further unfair verdicts but Al-Zind? Who else is capable of fighting back against calls of reform but Al-Zind? He is the perfect man for these times, a precise reflection of the days Egypt is witnessing. He is beyond a doubt the embodiment of the overall Egyptian political situation.
Rana Allam is former Editor in Chief of Daily News Egypt and commentator on Egyptian affairs