An execution, and Egypt's death sentence on justice

An execution, and Egypt's death sentence on justice
Comment: Mahmoud Ramadan was executed to send a message, but there are many who still believe it is better to die like a lion than live like a dog, says Wael Kandil.
4 min read
08 Mar, 2015
Wheel out the gallows - it will make no difference [al-Araby]

The speed with which the Egyptian state carried out the death sentence anti-coup activist Mahmoud Ramadan is unprecedented in modern Egypt. Condemned prisoners normally remain in their red death-row uniforms for years, until people almost forget they are there.

Over the past two weeks, there has been an overwhelming drive in the Egyptian media to promote Ramadan's execution, in a way that almost overshadowed the coverage of the much-touted donors conference.

When Ramadan was executed, Egyptian state TV broke the news with an announcement that footage of Ramadan's hanging would be broadcasted soon.

At the same time, there was something that almost resembled a methodological priming of people to accept scenes of death, from the relentless broadcasting of the execution of Egyptian workers in Libya, to the hyperbole regarding the hanging and mutilation of a dog. It seemed as if there was a deliberate plan to desensitise people to news and footage of hangings and immolations.

Ramadan's case, from the outset, following the removal of president Mohamed Morsi, was marked by intense propaganda. This was in effect a prelude to the massacres that took place during the break-up of anti-coup sit-ins, with a view to demonise the opponents of the military coup.

     Ramadan's case was marked by intense propaganda.

It was as if the footage simultaneously carried by the pro-coup television networks, accompanied by shameful slurs against all Islamists, paved the way for the slaughter to come. And indeed, massacres ensued outside the Republican Guard HQ, then at the Manassa Memorial, culminating with the massacres at Rabia al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares.

The videos of people being thrown from the top of a water tank on the roof of a building in Alexandria clearly show Ramadan, the bearded engineer and husband of a young doctor, quite far from the carnage.

However, his beard and its connotations were seized upon by the media, and became the focus of hosts and frenzied commentators above all else, so much so that the main headline of the story soon became "Pro-Morsi Islamists are killing children by throwing them from rooftops".

Just like the Ramadan affair was used to pave the way for the mass murder of anti-coup activists, his execution is now being used once again to pave the way for more rivers of blood, this time flowing from court halls given the huge number of death sentences issued against dissidents.

The message of a massacre

Just like the regime wanted the massacre at Rabia to serve as an example for anyone who dared protest against the coup, the regime is now using the execution of Ramadan to deter all those even thinking about dissenting.

Yet according to police sources, Ramadan, confident that he was innocent, was calm and at peace in his last moments in this world.

Everything we know indicates that though 20 months have passed since the murders at Rabia, the flame of protest and anger has yet to subside among the opponents of the coup.

The murder has not managed to sow the seeds of fear, nor to silence them or force them to cave in to brutality out of fear for their own safety.

Rather, protests have grown and they continue to grow, and it is clear that the crowds taking to the streets throughout Egypt believe it is better to die like a lion than live like a dog.

I do not believe that the message the regime has meant to send, by hanging Ramadan, will intimidate and petrify protesters and dissidents.

     None of the opponents of oppression expect justice from a trigger-happy judiciary.

Indeed, the opponents of the coup realise that the path to freedom and dignity will be inevitably strewn with death and torture, whether from a judge's gavel, a soldier's rifle, or a pro-regime thug's knife.

People are now certain that justice is dead. None of the opponents of oppression expect justice from a trigger-happy judiciary, or from a state that has murdered a revolution motivated by justice, dignity, and freedom.

The majority realises that there are no longer any real trials taking place, preceded by due process and proper investigation. They now know that all this has been supplanted by politicised sentences and crackdowns, albeit disguised in judges' robes.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.