On Madamasr.com, the articles detailing the Shura Council case and the No Military Trails for Civilians movement pierce right to the heart of the issue of inequality in today’s Egypt. Whereas Herrera’s article detailed the evolution of the “wired generation” in the past two decades and how it contributed to the earlier revolts and the ousting of Mubarak, the articles about the Shura Council case give insight into the corruption that lingered in Egypt even after Mubarak’s ousting.

I could list the egregious civil rights crimes committed by the Egyptian government against its own citizens, but it’s shorter to instead start with the fact that many citizens are  being tried and convicted in military courts, because it explains how the government gets away with every other crime against its own citizens. First of all, to try a civilian in a military court is a huge civil rights violation in itself. The US equivalents are the people held at Guantanamo Bay, stuck in limbo in horrible conditions, while they wait for a trial that may never come. US lawmakers constantly argue over whether to try these detainees in civilian or military courts. Military courts, in these situations, are viewed so badly because they basically function as faux-justice courts where none of the normal proceedings of fair practice or judicial law actually need to be upheld. This holds true for both the US and Egypt, but if anything the Egyptians have it much worse.

It’s fitting for the Egyptian government to have citizens tried in faux-courts because the Egyptian government is a faux-democracy. They have an elected president and a prime minister but half of the time that president (it’s now Sisi) is put into power through a military coup and the other half of the time he’s elected in rigged systems or without running against any opposition. Under this semi-presidential, semi-tyrannical government, the military and police force are given the power to bring any civilians to military trial, under pretty much any charges they see fit. There is no system or precedent to say that a person guilty of any charge, talking back against an officer for example, should face x number of years. The judged make it up on their own, and sometimes a citizen can face years of prison for a “crime” that another walked for. This system is inherently oppressive, and it’s undermining not only democracy but the human rights of Egyptian citizens.

 

 

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Understanding Egypt’s Current State

From someone who had just started learning about activism in Egypt, it is a little bit hard to believe that the 2011 revolution’s success only lasted that long. Herrera’s article helped me understand this a little bit. It went into depth about how the ‘wired generation’, or simply the youth, was able to mobilise the revolution through the internet. The article also pointed out the limitations of the wired generation – in relation to going backwards after the revolution – short attention span and lack of long term planning skills.

Herrera raised an important question: “Does our generation possess the skill sets, vision, resources and organisational know-how necessary to build and sustain the type of democratic and just society it values?”

From Egypt’s current state, its clear that the youth is able to voice their ideologies alright, but they were unable to take the leadership role themselves, and now they are unable to overthrow the regime because it has become more repressive than ever. Its government had issued highly restrictive assembly laws that banned public protests back in 2013. In the following year, Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gave the military even more power than they already had by placing all ‘public and vital facilities’ under military jurisdiction – this means that since protesting is illegal, civilians will be trialled in military court for doing so, which is what has been happening in Egypt for the past few years.

Before the 2011 revolution, it was police brutality, but now its the military. As shown in so many cases, they can arrest and hold people up to years without ever giving them a trail, they can torture people into confessing or they can trial them without following due process. Military court also does not have a different set of rules for juveniles, making it dangerous for anyone and everyone.

Going back to Herrera’s question about the new generation’s ability: I think it has been repressed before it could mature, and is being led into wrong directions.