He added: “What is required from the international community, the western countries, which do not allow the establishment of a religious state in their countries, is to neither accept nor approve the racist idea of a religious jewish state in Israel, which threatens the whole region”.
He said: “Let’s agree that all states must be laicistic. Why should then we exclude Israel from this? The exclusion of Israel from precepts which all other countries accept, to give her the “right” to be a racist and religious state, is unacceptable”. Judge Al-Bastawisi visited Austria in order to communicate with the Egyptian community, to discuss with them his candidacy platform and to listen to their views and answer their questions.
Judge Al-Bastawisi is a well known leader of the protest by Egypt’s judges against the Mubarak regime’s misuse of the judiciary. He was a fighter against corruption under the former regime. He suffered lots due the former regimes harassment, which tried several times to involve him in immoral issues and implanted spying equipment in his house.
Mr. Hesham Mohamed Othman Al-Bastawisi, with 30 years of working in the field of law, is an Egyptian judge and Vice-President of the Court of Cassation. He received a Bachelor of Laws in 1976 from Cairo University. He is married to Ms. Olfat Salah al-Sahli and has three sons, Mohammed, a graduate of Engineering, Ahmed, a student of law in France in his third year, and Mustafa, who also studies law in France, in his first year.
At the beginning of his speech, judge Al-Bastawisi said that Egypt had lost justice during the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. This makes them needy for justice in all fields. Al-Bastawisi sees that justice is the basis of governance and that Egyptians miss freedom and democracy and were not satisfied with the level of hypocrisy and corruption of the former dictatorial regime. He also pointed out that his platform is based on improving conditions for the farmers and the agricultural sector, and solving the problem of the Nile water, indicating that 51% of Egypt’s water is wasted in the Mediterranean.
The audience at Hotel Modul included a hot dialogue with Judge Al-Bastawisi. Many of the attendees expressed their resentment for the policies of the Egyptian military council which rules Egypt now. With its unclear and blurry policy, the council does not respond to the inquiries of the Egyptian revolutionists. The Egyptian questions about the elections and the long due day for ending the rule of the military receive no answers, and the council is very slow in achieving the demands of the Egyptian revolution.
I asked the judge about his program on foreign relations and international law and his position on the crimes against humanity committed and abetted by the former Egyptian regime, especially the blockade on the Gaza Strip and starving the Palestinians to appease Israel and to comply to the American pressure, which links continued financial support to Egypt to the extent of Egypt’s commitment to achieving the demands of Israel, which are all against local and international laws, specifically the Israeli demands with regard to the Palestinian cause. I asked how he would deal with this issue if he elected as a president of Egypt.
Judge Al-Bastawisi said that the Egyptian regime committed crimes against humanity in Gaza, which are punishable under international laws and against international treaties, and acknowledged that what the former regime did was a crime in the field of international law, stating that there are many treaties saying that states must not close the borders for humanitarian assistance to their neighboring countries.
He said: “in my opinion and in the opinion of the candidacy platform, dealing with the Palestinian issue will be on the grounds that the Palestine issue is not an issue of Palestinians only, but is an issue of the whole Middle East and we can only deal with this issue through cooperation with the other Arab countries”. He added: “in order to know how to deal with the Palestine issue, we must first know what are our priorities, our interests and our security? We should know from where to start and where to end”.
He said: “Let’s talk about land for peace. My question is, which party will give the land? Which party will lead the peace?” He continued: “thinking about the answer to this question, I find that we are the part who gave the land, and gave the peace and everything else, and that Israel gave us nothing in return while international law talks about the return of Israel to the 1967 borders”. He added: “In order that I recognize Israel, I think that Israel should recognize me and return to the borders of 1967 which they occupied during the war”.
The judge asked: “If I am only the part who will give Israel the land, normalization of relations, peace and security … etc., then what Israel will give me?” He said: “We are not assaulting Israel, but Israel is continuing to assault us. We are the party that really is in need for security. So which is the security that Israel wants from us?”
He said that we should think in the same way of Israel, and in order to solve our problem with Israel, we must clarify that our problem with Israel is a problem of identity and struggle for civilization and culture: Our identity, culture and civilization are threatened by Israel.
He gave an example to illustrate his opinion. He said: “When the state of France realized the increase in the phenomenon of wearing the “Islamic Hijab” on its territory, they initiated laws that prohibit it in order to preserve its identity, civilization and culture. In my view France was within its rights with all the adopted resolutions on this issue, and this example should apply to Israel, which threatens not only the identity and security of Palestine, but of the whole Middle East”.