April 28, 2011

Justice has to prevail and so does Egypt

Original Post: April 18th, 2011

Mubarak is in jail and so are some of his most evil partners; waiting for - what I hope will be - fair trials. Still, many are calling for more members of the old regime to be arrested and tried.
Some people want that every single wrongdoer during the Mubarak time be tried and punished. They are absolutely right in what they call for. Justice has to prevail, but within the implementation of justice could lie injustice itself.

Let's face it: the past 30 years in Egypt were corrupt beyond anyone's imagination. Corruption ran from the very top all the way down to each and every one of us. Whoever could find a way to bend the rules a little did it. Some more than others but almost everyone did it; even if under the benign mask of friendship or solidarity, we did it. I for one always pride that I never paid a bribe at work but I still gave an occasional tip to the traffic police. Sometimes I went to the banks where I knew the tellers so I can get things done faster. The bottom line, we were all part of that system and there was no way to survive otherwise. Obviously, some people benefited more than others and some exploited that culture to the fullest, crossing the lines of what you might call harmless corruption into full fledge abuse.

At this stage, we can go after each and every person who has contributed to or benefited from corruption, which is the just thing to do but will probably result in locking up the majority of this population. Even if we chose to bring to justice only those who have "contributed" to corruption we risk bringing down most of our institutions whether governmental, financial, political, religious or social. By doing so we would be putting our country to a halt. Not only so, but we could scare decision makers to the extent where they will avoid making decisions all together. We will be sending the message to the business community (both locally and internationally) that we as a country can sign legally binding contracts with you and then put you in jail.

Let's look at it from a different perspective, in such a corrupt system the majority suffered from extreme injustice, starting from bad education, to poor healthcare all the way to favoritism in the workplace and unfair competition. Unless, we start addressing the core issues, those very people will continue to suffer from the same injustices. The core issues are not the corruption of a group of people; it's the entire value system in our society and the practices that go with it.

So, while we continue to go after wrongdoers, we will extend the suffering because I assure you that none will take a decision in the government and none will decide to invest in Egypt unless the wave of prosecution subsides.

I am happy to draw the line at Mubarak and his top guys as well as the ones responsible for killing protesters. I am happy with the statement that it makes that none is above the law, even the big guy himself. I would stop right there, grant everybody else forgiveness and up the punishment for corruption to the extent where anyone would think a hundred times before doing it again. But, at this stage we have to start sending the message that we are ready to rebuild this country, we are not out for revenge but we want to establish a just system. The message that we are not out for revenge is just as important.

It is to our advantage that the prosecution is within the judiciary system and not through a popular court. The message that this sends out is excellent: we in Egypt are establishing the rule of law and the rule of justice. However, we need to look at justice from every angle and the people who have suffered the most injustice will gain little today by putting the largest number of people in jail or by bringing down our entire system. They will benefit the most by reform and by the rebuilding of Egypt.

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