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Stop Tampering With the Judiciary! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sudan is busy dragging suspects to courts, starting with the British teacher [Gillian Gibbons] who was accused of insulting Islam unto Mubarak al Mahdi who was charged as being a threat to the regime.

One must be naïve to believe the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, al Samani al-Wasila, when he stated that, “the Sudanese judiciary is independent and impartial. The government does not interfere in the work of the judiacary and respects the sentences that it issues.”

The government does not only intervene; rather, it dictates, exploits and eliminates. A poor British teacher is on her way out of prison and out of Sudan. She was detained by the government that wanted to put her on trial, imprisoned her, issued a sentence then went back on it, and now it is trying to proclaim valor and upholds that it has spared the teacher the imprisonment sentence.

Moreover, the government claims that it had nothing to do with decisions issued by the court; a ridiculous statement that did not convince anyone in Sudan or Britain. The evidence of this lies in the fact that the Sudanese Minister of Justice still admits the truth and upholds that the government was the party that called for a trial under the pretext of committing an abomination.

In short, the story is that one of the students named his teddy bear after himself, Mohammed, not after the Prophet of Islam. However, in order to find a way to threaten the British government via the Islamic public, the Sudanese authorities found in this story the opportunity to inflame the public under a fabricated pretext.

This is the problem with some of our courts; that is, some judges do not respect the gravity of their positions or even of the judiciary itself, in addition to lacking respect for the basic human right to justice.

But moreover, governments have no shame in employing their courts to settle personal accounts with their enemies, only to emerge later and prevaricate about judicial integrity, the absence of interference and respect for sentences issued by the court. The judicial system is lost between politicized judges who use the judiciary system to serve their own objectives and convictions, and officials who use judges to achieve the same ends.

In the past, it was not uncommon for a ruler to judge, punish and pardon, ensuring that the judiciary is free of political exploitation. Unfortunately, exploiting courts as a means to settle political conflicts has become a political conflict in and of itself so that it has transformed into a dangerous phenomenon that opens up Pandora’s Box that would be difficult to close again.

What happened in Sudan is appalling, shameful and a crime committed against Muslims the world over, not by an innocent teacher but by an authority that is embroiled in disputes with foreign regimes and local parties. Every time the Sudanese government wants to settle accounts, it implicates the judiciary. In this case, Sudanese authorities have exploited the judicial system in a tug-of-war game against the British government  alongside its ongoing conflict over Darfur and the international forces.

The Sudanese government has previously employed the judiciary to counter its opponents, including Islamists who supported its coup against the legitimate regime 18 years ago. Likewise, the judiciary was misused in the trial of Mubarak al Fadl al Mahdi in the short duration that it lasted, along with 30 others who supported him, as part of the latest play to terrorize critics.

Mubarak al Mahdi’s detention was the latest of these shocking atrocities. There is a state of near unanimous agreement that Mubarak, the leader of the Umma Renewal and Reform party, is one of the most prominent Sudanese politicians who is strongly pro-reconciliation and for the elimination of violence. Although he had always been a peaceful critic, the authorities found him to be an easy target.

The Sudanese government has caused affront to Muslims worldwide when it hurled malicious charges against a British woman under a fake banner of Islam. It also insulted Sudanese citizens through the accusations and detention of Mubarak al Mahdi and his associates. Moreover, it has insulted the judicial system by exploiting what may be deemed the most elevated of institution, namely, the judiciary.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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