Winston Churchill … and corrupt judiciary

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THE American writer Mark Twain sent to a number of American celebrities and politicians a message with a few words – “Run, we have been exposed.”

The next morning, ten of them had fled the United States.

The lesson here is that the corrupt is empowered by a person who is more corrupt or greater than him in corruption. This was what a prominent Egyptian writer and visionary Tawfiq Al-Hakim had highlighted in his play “Council of Justice”.

This 1972 play revolves around the concept of judiciary corruption, the common interests among the corrupt, the way the judge advocates injustice at the expense of the public, and the principle that the weak is the one who resorts to the judiciary.

The play starts with a man giving a baker his slaughtered goose to roast for him. The baker asked the man to leave and return about an hour later to pick his roasted goose.

At that time, the city judge went to the bakery and said to the baker, “Give me something to eat.”

He replied, “I have nothing but this goose but it belongs to a man who will return to take it.”

The judge said, “Give it to me. If its owner comes to you, tell him that the goose has flown away.”

The judge took the goose and went away.

When the owner of the goose returned to pick it up, the baker told him that the goose had flown away. The man became angry and asked the baker, “Are you crazy? I brought it while it was slaughtered, so how can it fly when it is dead?”

Hence, the man decided to take the baker to the court to seek justice.

As they were going to court, they came across two people fighting – a Muslim and a Jew. The baker attempted to separate them, but accidentally his finger poked an eye of the Jew and ruptured it.

People gathered and grabbed the baker, and then dragged him to the judge. As they approached the court, the baker managed to escape and entered a mosque where he climbed over the minaret in an attempt to hide, but the mob of people managed to catch up with him, prompting the baker to jump and fall on an old man, killing him instantly.

The old man’s son apprehended the baker. He and the rest of the people sent him to the judge to seek justice.

When the judge saw the baker, he remembered the goose incident, not knowing that the baker had other two cases that he needed to respond to, which were stealing of a goose, gouging out an eye, and manslaughter.

When the judge learned of the three cases, he grabbed his head and sat down to think. Then he said, “Let us take the cases one by one”. He started with the goose case and the man claimed that the baker stole his goose. He said, “I gave it to him after it was slaughtered and asked him to roast it for me. Upon my return, he claimed that the goose flew away. Your Honor, how can a slaughtered goose do that?”

The judge asked the man, “Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.”

The judge said, “He (God) is the one who gives life to the bones after they decompose. Therefore, get up, you have nothing against the man… Bring the second plaintiff.”

The Jew came in and said, “This man (baker) poked my eye.”

The judge said to the Jew, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but the blood-money of a Muslim for a non-Muslim is half. This means, poke out your second eye so that we can poke one eye of the Muslim.”

The Jew said, “No, no… I waive the claim against him.”

The judge said, “Bring the third case.”

The son of the dead old man then came and said, “This man jumped on my father from the minaret of the mosque and killed him.”

The judge said, “Take the accused to the same place. You climb over the lighthouse and jump on him.”

The young man said, “But, Your Honor, if he moves to the right or to the left, I can die!”

He said to him, “By God, this is not my problem. Why didn’t your father move left or right?”

The young man said, “No, I do not want anything from him”, and he gave up the claim against the man.

When the judiciary is corrupted, not only are the rights lost, but also states are lost. This is because justice is the shield and defender of kingdom or rule. That is why when the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was told during World War II that the country suffers from poor education, and that signs of corruption began to appear in service institutions, he asked, “What about the judiciary?”

When he was told that the judiciary is still intact and has not yet been contaminated, he said, “Britain is fine, and it will be stronger than it was as long as justice is fine.”

I remembered the play of Tawfiq al-Hakim, and the words of Churchill after witnessing what some Arab countries are going through when the core of the judiciary is shaken. Injustice befalls the weak, and the corrupt exploit justice to enhance their power, which caused some Arab countries to go bankrupt, and even made them live in a civil war for years.

That is why everyone should read the play of Tawfiq al-Hakim to learn how injustice leads to the collapse of the state, and not forget the fact that – as long as the judiciary is fine, countries will be fine.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

This news has been read 39692 times!

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