In 2018, the legislative authority in Egypt issued draft Law No. 175 of 2018 under the title Law on Combating Information Technology Crimes . The exit of the new law with its nine chapters and fifty-four articles did not attract any attention at the time, and the issuance of new legislation was not accompanied by any controversy except within the confines of narrow circles, and it was related to technical and formal matters between the courts and the competent legal circles; Until the year 2020 came and the content and articles of the law became one of the most important topics and debates between significant sectors of Egyptian society that are active in the public sphere and the virtual space.
Since that date, a loud and continuous debate has erupted up to this point about the nature of the law, and the controversial article related to what the legislature called the values of the Egyptian family. In turn, many human rights organizations and a wide number of progressive and liberal circles in Egypt came out with campaigns and statements calling on the Egyptian authorities and the Public Prosecution to stop imposing their own and illegal moral conceptions of family values on society, and pay attention and assume their responsibilities in protecting society from torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings that It is exercised by the executive authority against the citizens.
The Egyptian prosecution continued accusations of a number of influencers on the communication sites, which later extended to some workers in the technical field, of assaulting the values of the Egyptian family, especially with the issuance of the Cairo Economic Court ruling to punish the girls with imprisonment for two years, and a fine of 300,000 pounds for each of them on the same charge: Infringement on the “values and principles of the Egyptian family.” (1) On the other hand, many Egyptian lawyers and human rights associations commented that this ruling is a judicial precedent with serious repercussions, especially in view of the future rulings that may affect any Egyptian citizen under a loose pretext such as violating family values. (2)
This discussion raises a number of important questions; Which Egyptian family is the one that the Egyptian authority claims to protect? Are these values known, specific, declared and can be measured? More importantly, is the idea of “family values” as a legal concept that threatens the freedom of individuals and citizens a good thing, or does it have bad and dangerous repercussions on the freedom of individuals? in another meaning; Is the priority for any political and legislative system to preserve the freedom, security and rights of the individual, regardless of his cultural and political background, as a basis for the principle of citizenship, or to impose a specific moral conception of values and the family and force everyone to submit to this conception?
Following the issuance of the accusations and the arrest of some influencers in what was known in the media as the case of the Tik Tok girls, the legal and criminal controversy moved to the political and cultural sphere, and a large number of progressive activists launched a human rights and propaganda campaign under the hashtag “After the Egyptian family’s permission” to demand the release of the girls, where they described a law 175 is flawed, claiming that it opens the door to further restricting freedom of expression and abolishing the right to disagree, and allows citizens to be imprisoned on vague accusations that do not have a coherent legal definition.
The main argument here is that “the legislator is aware of the impossibility of establishing a comprehensive legal definition that prevents values that change with the change of time and place, in a highly diverse multi-ethnic society, religions, sects and cultures. Therefore, he maintained these broad terms that open the door to interpretations. Hence, the Public Prosecution must not usurp itself by contravention. The law and the constitution have the power to impose a list of family values that it assumes are generalizable to diverse rural, urban, Bedouin and Nubian societies, and are inspired by the values of different religions, beliefs and cultures.” (3)
Here, the basic logic of the progressive human rights campaign against the new law appears, which is that the family values law is part of the totalitarian tendency of the current regime. According to that view, it is considered a law dedicated to criminalizing difference and restricting public and private freedoms, and according to that vision, the most important problem is defining the family as a primary legal unit and a legal person with an independent legal entity, which is considered a serious legislative flaw, and contributes to building a strict political and social system in the name of morals And values that exclusively political power have to define and categorize.
The American political philosopher “Francis Fukuyama” summarizes the essence of the liberal progressive idea that it is based mainly on the statement that the individual basically exists in a position independent of society, where the individual possesses an authentic existence, an independent mind, an instinct yearning for justice and happiness, and a sound moral sense that enables him to enjoy his existential freedom and authenticity. Human misery begins with the oppression of the individual in favor of higher collective entities, be it the state, the church, society or the family. From this view emerged the modern liberal vision of citizenship, where every citizen is independent and free before a neutral legal apparatus without moral guardianship from anyone. (4)
Charles Taylor, the Canadian sociologist, asserts, in his book “The Formation of a Modern Identity” that “an important part of the massive self-transformation of modern culture has been towards a new form of inwardness, which we have come to think of ourselves as beings with benevolent inner depths and containing unlimited possibilities for us to explore. “. According to Fukuyama, liberal political modernity was founded on this very foundation, where “a progressive liberal society is seen not only as a political system that protects certain individual rights, but actively encourages the full realization of all inner potentialities of the self.” (5) Fukuyama continues, stressing that the progressive process of individualism did not stop at this point. Rather, all institutions of society, especially the family institution, especially at the hands of the ideologists of the new left, were viewed as oppressive and dispossessive institutions, and that human happiness depends on liberating him from artificial social restrictions or From any social milieu generally oppressive.
In its statement on Egyptian law, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights cited a very telling phrase, noting that “no one knows the values of that Egyptian family that was assaulted by the nine women, as the legislator treated the 100 million Egyptians as a single military army subject to the same standards.” It adopts the same values and adheres to the same customs. As a result, the Public Prosecution has used vague and undefined terms to expand its authority to indict and arrest those who do not comply with its standards, thus violating the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of freedom of opinion and expression. This reveals two opposing visions in dealing with the new law and the trials and arrests resulting from it. The first is the conservative vision of the political authority in Egypt, which enacted laws and arrested young girls, and the second is the progressive and human rights view that opposes it, which calls for a completely individualist policy without any legal reference other than the freedom and rights of the individual himself. . The question here is; Is every public policy based on family values an oppressive policy? Is it possible for a political group to really exist without family values?
According to the political philosopher “Carl Schmidt”, there is no politics of individualism, but there is hostility to politics in the name of individualism. From a completely different ideological position, the American academic, “George Lykoff,” agrees, and elaborates on Schmidt’s statement in greater detail, saying that progressives do not move in their campaigns and political or human rights discourse from a purely individualistic logic, but from a social and family perspective different from the conservative vision of politics and the state. The relationship that liberals and progressives imagine between the state and individuals stems from the representation of different social and family relationships between the father and his sons, meaning that the two groups in their representation of public policy imagine different families and educational systems before projecting them onto the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. (6) (7)
In a statement signed by a number of human rights organizations in Egypt, the undersigned organizations demanded the Egyptian Public Prosecution to protect society from torture, disappearances and killings instead of prosecuting young girls on social media, and there is an important indication here from George Lykoff that democratic and liberal movements have developed their discourses and institutions on a basis that aims to Preventing the political authority from acting as a strict, authoritarian father. From this perspective, according to Lykoff, the separation of powers and the electoral system can be seen as an attempt to isolate politics from the morality of the strict and tough father, but what kind of anti-father is the contemporary human rights movement trying to embody in politics?
In his book “Moral Politics.. How do liberals and conservatives think about politics?”, Lykov argues that family ethics is never absent from politics. On the contrary, most of the conflicting ideologies in our world today are ideologies based on anthropological lines stemming from family values more than being rational ideologies. This applies to progressive and liberal thought to the same degree as it applies to conservative and traditional thought. We have always been accustomed to progressives’ interest in the principles of an independent judicial system, the prohibition of military trials of civilians, or the civilian rule of the armed forces, and these are essentially moral concepts, not just a rational strategy of efficient governance. These concepts were brought into the political sphere by means of a different social moral system, which Lykov calls the model of the caring father or the caring family.
The nurturing family is a model based on the structure of family relationships different from the strict and conservative paternalism model, where children grow up within this educational model in a positive relationship with others and the world, and then children in their maturity stages become socially responsible for themselves and those around them, and the nurturing family has to take care of the children It helps them develop their skills and discover themselves, and allows them to explore the wide range of ideas, choices and experiences that the world presents to them, rather than imposing its perceptions and experiences on them. (8)
This is how children grow into the kind of citizens that progressives or liberals want society to be; Citizens who take care of themselves, are in solidarity with those around them, and embrace life, and in return they must constantly develop their capabilities and harness them in the service of society, and most importantly, they become independent creative minds during all this.
Progressives and liberals around the world, and in Egypt of course, apply the model of the caring family, as they see that the government’s natural role is that of the caring father. In other words, the government’s original role lies in opening the field and providing possibilities for citizens, especially young people and adolescents, to explore the world and build their own experiences and expertise, and provide opportunities for self-development, and the judiciary in particular should protect citizens from the abuse of the executive and security authorities. As for the state that imposes on its citizens a specific moral code and prosecutes them for their daily behavior on social media or in their private lives, and does not protect women from harassment and systematic negative discrimination against them, but rather persecutes and slanders them, it is a reactionary, patriarchal or highly conservative state, to say the least.
What George Lykov concludes is that the growing human rights tendency within the progressive and legal currents is a clear indication of the dependence of these currents on a policy based on family values as well, but it is a different family and nothing more. Academic and political theorist Chantal Mauve takes that argument a step further across her entire intellectual and political enterprise. In her book “On the Concept of the Politician”, the Belgian thinker sheds light on the fact that the growing tendency of rights within the progressive currents hides behind an inappropriate understanding of politics. Rights and protection from the model of the caring, caring parent, which is the political authority in this case.
In this context, Chantal agrees that there is no politics without family values, as the conservative vision of politics stems from the strict father or strict family model, where the father/governor bears the responsibility for setting the comprehensive family policy, and he teaches children right from wrong by setting rules for their behavior and forcing them Through reward and punishment, they become self-disciplined children/citizens in a difficult, dangerous and fundamentally irreversible world.
The presence of this political family model appears in the way in which the Tik Tok girls’ case moved, as mentioned human rights reports a number of procedures that violate technical standards related to arrest and attendance, in which the punitive paternalistic model is evident, which allows jumping on the rights of the accused in order to punish and abuse them. For example; Article 127 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates the controls and conditions necessary for the seizure report to be valid (each order must include the accused’s name, surname, industry, place of residence, the charge against him, the date of the order, the judge’s signature and the official seal). As expected, these matters were not available in the arrest warrant for “Haneen Hosam”, the accused in that case. The report lacked any information about the person to be arrested and brought, except for the incident in a nutshell and her double name.
In contrast, the Criminal Procedures Law regulating the powers, duties and role of the judicial police officer did not give him the powers to confront the accused with any of the seizures and evidence, but rather obligate him to notify the Public Prosecution of that, and the Public Prosecution should, if it deems this procedure necessary, refer the matter to the partial judge. In the case of the arrested girls, the police officer violated the Code of Criminal Procedure, and decided, on his own, to check the accused’s personal phones and computers and confront them, including; This is a violation of the law, a measure that opens the door to questioning the integrity of the evidence.
The matter did not stop here, but according to the reports issued on the case, the Public Prosecution also circumvented the text of Article 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that “decisions issued by the deliberation room shall in all cases be final,” which means that it is not permissible to appeal against Appeal of the accused. However, the Public Prosecution decided to re-imprison the accused after she was released on bail, which suggests a desire for punishment and discipline by the judicial authority. According to what appears in the statements of the Public Prosecutor that coincided with the case, the Public Prosecution took the example of a strict father in that case, ignoring the principle of the accused’s innocence until proven guilty, so it imposed its perceptions of what should and should not be, and then it became clear that it is not impartial as a rational and impartial legal institution .
Returning to Chantal Mouffe, she sees that the growing trend of human rights represents an escape or a transgression of politics as a physical and symbolic struggle at different levels towards employing the issue of rights, freedoms and citizenship as an issue of mutual pressure and a balance of power within the system, in order to consolidate those rights and freedoms instead of begging them from patriarchal authority Governorate. (9)
Therefore, while most democratic and progressive movements are symbolically associated with the concept of “father killing” and an attempt to build political selves independent of authoritarian domination, the demand for empowerment of rights, from institutions that have always been accused of violations, abuse and discipline, is a logically contradictory request unless it is reconstructed institutions democratically and politically anew; Thus, it grants actual political and social rights, which requires the emergence of a new political self, broader frameworks, and political discourses that are different from invoking the image of the shepherd in contemporary human rights ideology.