21 Jun 2011

Revolution.. Yet No Solution

Tuesday 21 June 2011

It was my first time ever in an Egyptian court. It is noisy and chaotic. In Egypt there is always a lot of people everywhere.

Outside the headquarters of the State Council, white-uniformed policemen were deployed, trying to keep a cordon around protesters who might otherwise block the traffic on the street. 

But why are they protesting? The fuss is all about : Madinati (My City) !

Workers defending their bosses?!!

On one side of the street : activists, citizens who have come to "defend Egypt". On the other side of the street : workers who have come to defend the Madinati project, their "source of income".  The land of this housing project was sold under the Mubarak regime at a much lower price than the market price, allegedly thanks to corruption. So the case is to retroactively cancel the transaction of the land purchase and put it up for auction.

One of the workers told me passionately : "I hold a university degree since 1990 but I have never worked in my field.  I am still struggling to make a living, as a worker. I cannot afford to lose my job." I told him there would be a fund for any laid-off workers, he said : "It is still the same regime, the same government. They won't help us"

On the other side, a woman - who took a day off work - was also speaking passionately: "I am here to defend the land of Egypt and its real value, to continue the fight against corruption. I did not go to Tahrir for nothing".

Another crowd had come all the way from the Sinai Peninsula. They wanted to gain right of property over land as opposed to the right of use of the land. One of their supporters, a Cairo doctor who also took the day off, said to me: "They sell our land to Israelis in Sinai when Egyptians are not entitled to the same".

Revolution in court

Past the pushing and shoving, I managed with the help of Al Jazeera colleagues, to go into the building. I saw a fight in court, people being kicked out, others pushing to go in. It was truly packed.

"No cameras, no laptops, no filming unless you have an authorization" repeated a veiled woman in the midst of the noise. Yet almost everyone filmed anyway with their phones throughout the session!!  

Every single case on the agenda had to do with the revolution, or at least there was a mention of the revolution in it.

In one case the plaintiffs wanted local councils dissolved because they were "mis-elected" under corrupt Mubarak rule and 97% of their members today are from Mubarak's ex-ruling, now dissolved, party. The plaintiff argued that the councils could not continue to exist with the revolution. There is actually a local council in every neighborhood and every village of Egypt. 

In the Sinai case, again the plaintiffs argued it was the revolution that should give Egyptians the right to own land.

In yet another case, plaintiffs were workers in a lamps factory who were suing the owner to get their unpaid social benefits. They also thought revolutionary Egypt should now be fair to them.

There was also a case aimed at stopping the Egyptian government from continuing to build a wall on the border with Gaza. I am told the building has actually stopped on the ground but this is to get a court order on the matter.

No magic solutions

Rulings in all of the cases were adjourned to a later date after long hours of waiting. But it was not a wasted day for me.

I realised how the revolution carries on its back the weight of all the inherited problems from Mubarak's era, some generated by his regime and others are problems existing in developing countries. People have suffered here for too long. They now hope for "revolutionary" solutions to their complex issues. It is their right of course. But there is no magic stick to undo all the harm done by Egypt's evil witch, although it is gone. 

Mubarak's fall took 18 days and nights. As for the rest, I recall what The Beatles singer George Harrison once sang, solo: "It's gonna take patience and time".

Patience, Egyptians !


Read previous posts from Cairo in my Egyptian Diary


Will Stebbins said...

thanks, Dima - I appreciate the chaos of anticipation that the revoluton has unleashed. A thirst for justice that will take a long time to eb quenched. I had always understood that the Egyptian judiciary had a proud tradition of independence and dismantling it was one the many crimes of the NDP regime. There is clearly a desperate need for fair and independent judges now...thanks again for this.

Dima Khatib said...

Thank you Will for this.. I am enjoying Cairo very much. I am sure you miss living here!