32. There is no difference between Muslims and Christians in judicial positions

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Wafā’ Shu‘ayrah and Rajab al-Murshidī report on the opinions of different councilors and judges in Egypt.

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In response to the declarations of Majdī al-Jārhī concerning appointing Christians and women as judges in the State Council, ¬Rose al-Yūsuf asked members of the Judges’ Club their opinions as to whether al-Jārhī’s opinion is a personal one. Councilor Rif‘at al-Sayyid, head of the Judges Club in Assiut, differentiated between the judge being a ruler as it had been in the past on the one hand, and the present judge who merely applies the law on the other. "In the past," he said, "when the judge was a ruler, the judge should have been a Muslim for he would deduce laws from both the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. However," Rif‘at al-Sayyid added, "at the present time, the judge only applies the law; so there is no room for Ijtihād as long as the law is clear. Accordingly, it is not important that the judge be a Muslim as long as he is qualified for the position."

Councilor Nabīl ‘Umrān, vice president of the Court of Cessation, criticized al-Jārhī’s declarations saying that any Egyptian has the right to be a judge. "I wonder why anyone would now talk about their objections to having Christian judges," ‘Umrān said. "Would that not put Egypt at the peak of backwardness?" He stressed that Egypt is a civil state that embraces Egyptian, both Muslims and Christians. "In addition," he added, "if there were Jews living in Egypt, they would have been treated the same way because the Constitution is based on equality and citizenship and does not differentiate among people because of religion."

Muhammad ‘Īd Sālim, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Judges, said, "As a judge, I depend on the law, not on legislation. Accordingly, I am concerned with judicial issues, not discussing issues related to ḥalāl and ḥarām. I urge people to leave such decisions concerning whether or not to appoint Christians and women as judges to qualified people," ‘Īd Sālim said. "If the Muftī and the grand Imām agreed on the idea, we would support it and work on its application."

Councilor ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Shirbīnī, head of the Supreme Council of State Security, wondered why a woman could not be a judge. "We should give her the chance to prove herself as a judge, then assess the quality of her decisions." When asked about his opinion concerning having Christian judges, ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Shirbīnī said, "We already have Christian judges who are as qualified as their Muslim counterparts."

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