CAIRO: The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court will announce on March 14 its decision on Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s request to explain and clarify the legislation governing appointing members to the State Council, which had rejected the appointment of female judges.
The current legislation stipulates that members of the State Council have to be “Egyptian, a word which in Arabic is specific to the male gender. The Court, however, has to decide whether the word, as used in the legislation, is exclusive to males or is just a description of nationality that includes both genders.
“Whoever holds the Egyptian nationality is Egyptian whether it’s a male or a female, said Judge Rasha Mahfouz.
“Whatever the decision they make we will respect it and we will continue to work hard and prove ourselves that we are more than eligible for the position, she added.
The State Council, established in 1946, hears cases brought by individuals against the state.
Last month, 380 judges took part in a general assembly vote, with 334 rejecting the appointment of women in judicial posts in the State Council, 42 accepting the motion and four abstaining.
The decision, which sparked controversy and was slammed by human rights activists, could have been overruled by the Special Council, which oversees the State Council.
However, when the seven-member Special Council voted on the issue, four rejected the appointment of female judges while three accepted it. But despite the majority’s rejection, Mohamed El-Husseini, head of Egypt’s State Council, said that public interest dictates that procedures to appoint female judges in the State Council continue.
The first female judge in Egypt, Tahani El Gebaly, who is also the deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, previously commented on the issue saying that the decision to bar women from the State Council “created a crisis without a crisis.
She said that she was surprised by the decision as it violates freedom and constitutional rights. She attributed the decision to “the extremist and fundamentalist religious thought that is taking over our society, including judges in the State Council.