Away, and mock the time with fairest show;
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
Following the announcement of al Zend as Minister of Justice in Egypt, I instantly remembered some of his infamous statements and positions. I was happy to know others did too, countering the media polishing of al Zend’s personality in a very successful attempt at creating yet another cult of personality. In fact, newspapers said that during the Ikhwan rule al Zend was known as the ‘lion of judges’ and also as the number one enemy of Ikhwan. Evidence, though, shows quite the contrary – and as usual in politics, everything is not what it seems.
The following are some of al Zend’s statements:
- On application of Sharia (2012): al Zend wearing a haj robe stated that he wanted the Egyptian legislature to change the law to be ‘purely Islamic’ especially the hodood laws in the criminal law. He stated that the ‘problem’ needs to be resolved just like the laws in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
- On Morsi: (22 April 2013) Al Zend said that the first place where Ikhwan were represented publicly was at the Judges’ Club.He stated that “Morsi praised my humble person and praised the judges’ club” and continued: “I don’t believe anyone but him”.
- On criticizing judges: Al Zend stated that he who burns a picture of a judge will have his heart burnt and his memory and image wiped off the land of Egypt.
الزند: “اللي هيحرق صورة قاضي هيتحرق قلبه وذاكرته وخياله من على أرض مصر”. قالها فى برنامج مصر اليوم.
- On “counter-revolutionaries”: (2013) Al Zind in a television program stated that Morsi needed to execute ‘counter-revolutionaries’ on the streets, and wondered why a state would leave the “leaders of a revolution”. He said you must hang them publicly in the streets. He stated that anyone who ‘conspires against the state’ is a traitor and needs to be hanged.
- On Obama: (2014) Al Zend said “Sisi smacked Obama on the back of his head that now he has no back.”
“السيسى ضرب أوباما بالقفا النهاردة ومن كتر ما السيسى ضرب اوباما على قفاه مبقاش عنده قفا”.
- “They are slaves and we are masters” (2014) – speaking of Judges and people. [In the media, as an attempt at polishing his image, some tv personalities began saying that’s not what he meant.. rather, what he meant was ‘the Egyptian people are masters and everyone else a slave’. Is this explanation supposed to make it better?
- On hiring sons of judges as new judges: (2012) Al Zend said ‘we will continue to appoint judges’ sons and no one can stop this holy march”.
تعيين أبناء القضاة سيستمر.. ولن تستطيع قوة في مصر إيقاف هذا الزحف المقدس
- On legitimacy of Morsi: (2013) – “Morsi is the legitimate president of Egypt.”
الزند : “مرسي” هو الرئيس الشرعي لمصر وله احترامه وتقديرها
As president of the judges’ club, one of the judges at the general assembly asked for a budget review and al Zend responded using derogatory term “what budget, boy?”
Clearly al Zend was cooperating and continued to be willing to cooperate with deposed president Morsi. However shortly after Morsi created the constitution and began calling for ‘cleansing’ the judiciary, al Zend began an anti-Morsi campaign and rode the rising anti-Ikhwan tide. At one point he actually gave Morsi a 36 hour ultimatum to withdraw his decision to re-install the parliament which the constitutional court had dissolved and deemed unconstitutional (July 2012). He also called Morsi’s much-contested constitutional declaration a travesty that overthrew law and justice – which it was. In 2013 he also commented on Morsi’s speech in which he spoke of ‘cleansing the judiciary’ as ‘inciting people against the judiciary.’
Al Zend was also instrumental in the campaign rejecting the removal of the public prosecutor Abdel Majeed Mahmoud – of the Mubarak era – from his position because the public prosecutor’s position is a ‘for life’ position and he may not be removed according to Egyptian law. Al Zend insisted that it was an encroachment on the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive. However eventually Abdel Majeed resigned and Morsi appointed his own Ikhwan-oriented prosecutor, Talaat Abdullah.
Ideologically, it is clear that al Zend is of the Morsi-ilk and mentality a demonstrated in his statements and many of his positions. However the differences began when he felt Morsi was encroaching upon his – and the judges’ – authorities and powers. It is, therefore, not a question of being ‘a lion’ anti-Ikhwan, but rather a simple and typical power struggle.