By Dr. Ashraf Ramelah
From the West, I continue to highlight horrendous crimes against Christians in Egypt. Even with President Al Sisi’s occasional act of contrition in public for Muslim aggression, Egypt’s regime still relies on Sharia Law. Islamic religious legalism is ingrained in the constitution by its second amendment, which allows religious dictates to reign over the courts. In the case which follows the court rules consistently with Sharia Law with little regard for truth or President Al Sisi’s condemnation of aggressors and soft-spoken apologies. A helpless and oppressed Christian population is appeased by the president’s words but ultimately must succumb to the Sharia double standard known as justice.
Time and time again religion determines the outcome of a crime; the Christian victim is blamed and found guilty while the perpetrators serving Islam run free. Often the crime is totally excused. After more than a decade, Al Sisi’s government has done nothing to solve this problem. A case in point is in the news again. I wrote about this crime when it happened in 2016. INSERT LINK For 7 years it wound its way through the system until a final verdict was handed down just last month (January 2023). One that was expected.
As a review, the original ruling came from the two-party Bedouin-style arbitration court (outside the official court system of judges and lawyers) within days of the assault of an elderly woman called Sauad Saabt. The Islamic Peace Court dismissed the actions of the Muslim men caught red-handed in the crime, freeing them immediately. The crime entailed breaking into the home of Sauad, dragging her into the street, stripping off her clothes, parading her through the street and recording it on video. The men were motivated by a rumor that Sauad’s son had had an affair with a married Muslim woman—a story dishonoring Muslims and offensive to Sharia law. This narrative, true or false, is emotional and sensitive and would naturally lead the Islamic Peace Court (arbitration court) to their biased and erroneous conclusion.
Since women are prohibited from attending the Islamic Peace Court, Sauad remained outside the arbitration court during the proceedings and filed an official police report. Shortly thereafter, the state prosecutor’s office stepped in. Within weeks, the case was brought to court, but the suspects did not appear. After four years of postponements, a guilty verdict in absentia was finally pronounced upon ten aggressors, issuing each a 10-year prison sentence. However, the men were never arrested and jailed.
The ten guilty men suddenly appeared and requested a re-trial to reverse the judgement. The trial was held soon after, and the verdict was reversed in their favor based upon their personal testimonies. This time, the court chose to ignore the facts. Witnesses from the crime scene were blocked from speaking. Thankfully, the not-guilty verdict forced a public outcry against the courts, mostly from a few prominent thinkers and critics. This precipitated the public prosecutor to revisit the re-trial and study its validity.
The prosecutor filed a new appeal on behalf of the victim using all the collected evidence. The men were found guilty in this third trial in a higher court and sentenced to 5 years in prison. However, it did not end here. The case was appealed one last time in the High Court (Egypt’s supreme court}. A final (unappealable) verdict of not-guilty was pronounced last month, giving Sharia Law the last word — Muslims are not condemned for violence against Christians.
To paraphrase President Al-Sisi’s remarks to the nation regarding the atrocity just days after it took place in 2016; Egyptian women, as part of society, should be respected and loved and appreciated. All men and women in Egypt have the same rights and duties. What happened is not appropriate and cannot be repeated ever again, and there is no difference between Egyptians based on religion.
The ruses and outcomes of this high-profile case is Egypt’s reality. The rhetoric of the president is not. Everything concerning the case completely defied the president’s words. His vision for society is rejected – that’s if we are to take him at face value.
The President’s office didn’t yet comment on the verdict and likely will not, although unrelated to this issue Al Sisi did comment just recently on another court ruling he found disagreeable. However, more so, this is the very case that earlier concerned the president enough to make a public statement regarding the sectarian issue that plagues the country.
Now it seems that his silence calls into question his integrity. His lack of comment induces us to think his original comment was Islamic taqiya (deception). Although Al Sisi did not comment, Sauad did. She commented with the following statement, “I wait for God’s justice and live in hope of obtaining my rights.” She and the Copts of Egypt cannot depend on the president or the Egyptian justice system.