Egyptian Cleric could face South African arrest over Morsi

2016-09-25 18:39

The Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) and Egyptian Mohamed Reda Elhenedawi Elorabi need to be commended for seeking the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the Egyptian Grand Mufti or religious scholar Shawqee Ibrahim Abdelkareem Alaam for his role in allegedly supporting the Egyptian regime and enabling its crimes in terms of international law. The docket, dubbed the Egyptian Death Penalty Docket, has been lodged with National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa.

The religious scholar along with his delegation intends travelling to South Africa in the coming weeks. Allam has faced widespread criticism since he ratified and upheld the death sentence imposed on ousted ex-President Mohammed Morsi. In Egypt, all death sentences have to be approved with a final judgement from the grand mufti, the country’s leading religious authority. Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, came to power in 2012 following the unseating of Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year rule over Egypt. Shortly thereafter Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was overthrown by the military coup which is believed to have been planned by the current regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International have accused Sisi’s regime of using the judiciary as a mechanism to suppress opposition parties. Regarding the death sentence on Morsi Amnesty International described the sentence as “a charade based on null and void procedures”.

The mainstream religious bodies in South Africa such as the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and Jamiatul Ulama SA also support the initiative of the MLA and have distanced themselves from the intended tour of South Africa by the Egyptian scholar.

To quote Moulana Ebrahim Bham of the Jamiatul Ulma South Africa: “I hope that this position not to meet the Mufti of Egypt on his proposed visit to South Africa will send a clear message of solidarity to the persecuted and register their disapproval of the conduct of the regime with respect to human rights.”

In a letter to the Egyptian Embassy, the MJC wrote that it will not entertain the scholar due to his name being tainted after he signed the death warrants of Egyptian citizens including Morsi. To quote an extract from the letter: “We fear that South African liberation movements in our country would strongly oppose and protest the visit of the Mufti and his delegation, and could potentially escalate into adverse conditions for them during their intended visit.”

Last year, al- Sisi was also forced to postpone his trip to South Africa when the Muslim Lawyers Association filed a docket requesting his arrest for human rights violations in Egypt.

The lives and movements of dictators, tyrants, autocrats and war mongers must be made miserable by using legitimate means such as the courts. A clear message must be sent to them that there will be severe consequences and penalties for individuals and leaders who defy the results of free and fair elections. They cannot disregard the voice of the people, rule of law, accountability, human rights, equality and dignity.

Dictators when confronted with active citizens, civil disobedience and the increase of independent human rights and democratic organisations and institutions, they will find that their world around them crumbling and unravelling. To quote Gene Sharp, senior scholar at the Albert Einstein Institution, “as a result of such legitimate rebelliousness and non-cooperation, executed wisely and with mass participation over time, the dictators would become powerless and the democratic forces would, without violence, triumph.”

Together with conscious driven people and organisations in South Africa, I appeal to the South African government and law enforcement structures to heed the call as contained in the MLA’s docket and apply the law to dictators traveling out¬side their home countries. Dictators, occupiers and brutal regimes around the globe must understand that terrorising people and trampling on their rights is a serious crime which is punishable by arrest and prosecution.

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