In a research paper I am currently preparing, I found out that there was some kind of a decision taken by opinion-making circles in the west to blame Egypt and Egyptians every day and then look for justifications later.
The presidency of Egypt is the most undermined, followed by the armed forces, the police, media, intelligence, judiciary, and then the parliament.
Yet, the presidency is almost always blamed.
If a court ruling acquitted a defendant, western media would say the ruling was politicised and came by pressure or orders from the presidency, the government, or intelligence, at the discretion of the author.
At the same time, if some defendant is found guilty, it will also be a presidential or government decision. When the Court of Cassation acquits this same person later, the accusation is at hand: this was driven by orders issued from a security agency.
Egypt is wrong in any case, from their point of view.
We have an example showing the gap in the different assessments of the Egyptian administration. The Egyptian-American activist Aya Hegazy returned to the US after three years of pre-trial detention during a trial that accused her of human trafficking.
On Sunday, an Egyptian court acquitted Aya Hegazy and seven more from several charges, including human trafficking. The case was publicly known as the Belady Foundation case. All eight defendants were accused of human trafficking, abduction of children, abusing them sexually, and forcing them to take part in political demonstrations.
Her lawyer affirmed several times that Hegazy was only doing charity for the benefit of street children.
Hegazy is a good example of someone who does a good thing in a wrong way. She is providing a service to Egypt and Egyptians, but in line with her own standards and rules, without considering the laws and procedures [Editor’s note: her acquittal suggests that she followed the law].
She wants to help street children, but Egypt has witnessed dozens of associations that raised similar slogans and were later found to have damaged Egypt.
The court issued its decision based on the information it had.
The previous US administration had asked the Egyptian authorities to release Aya Hegazy. A statement issued by the White House in September 2016 demanded Egypt to drop all charges against her and release Hegazy.
But the Egyptian Foreign Ministry condemned the statement and hinted that some American official circles insist on disregarding the principle of the rule of law [editor’s note: the Trump White House, after her release, noted that it had intervened on Hegazy’s behalf to secure her release].
But talks about the case remained in the hallways of the Egyptian judiciary, insisting the case must be processed carefully so that Hegazy does not fall victim to injustice despite her good intentions. When she was acquitted, the court was as courageous as it was when it decided to detain her before.
I have information that she decided to return to the United States on a civilian aircraft by her own will [editor’s note: she was taken on a US military aircraft and met US president Trump on Thursday]. But what concerns me more is that she and her colleagues must understand that Egypt is witnessing exceptional circumstances. She had to make sure the procedures she followed as a civil society foundation were correct because Egypt suffered a lot from those who claimed to have good intentions but had done bad.
Hegazy’s innocence shows the size of the dilemma faced by Egypt: government and people. Many countries turned into tribes under different flags, carrying weapons on the ruins of their states.
Egypt has chosen a difficult path: keeping the state institutions, even if these institutions suffer from corruption, whether it is neglect, wasting people’s time and energy, or financial corruption. But it is important that the state is still intact and subject to reform.
In the period after the 25 January revolution and throughout the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptians used to say: if we are to be stopped for inspection, let it be the police or the army, rather than terrorists or loggers.
Egyptians want a strong state with active institutions.
Any assessment of the situation in Egypt without accounting for the current circumstances and fears is an evaluation away from reality.