Poet Qais Bin Al-Malouh loved his cousin Laila Al-Amriya and was called “Al-Majnoun” because of his intense love for her, especially after his uncle refused to let him marry her. He roamed the desert, flirting with her, singing for her and crying over her. He moved between the Levant and the Hijaz, until his life tragically ended, as his body was found lying among the stones.
As for Tunisian President Kais Saied, who claims he is deeply in love with Tunisia and roams the country out of love, on a dark moonless night, he flung his beloved from the highest mountain, losing it in the darkness of the sea so that he could take its place – for him to become Tunisia and Tunisia to become him. He is the state, and the state is Kais Saied. If it weren’t taboo, he would have said it frankly, as did King of France Louis XIV, nicknamed the Sun King in the Middle Ages, who claimed: “I am the state.”
The difference between “Majnoun Laila” (Qais Bin Al-Malouh) and “Majnoun Tunis” (Kais Saied) is that the former loved Laila sincerely and was loyal to her and sacrificed his life for this love.
As for the second, he loved himself like all dictatorial tyrants and falsely claimed love for Tunisia in order to seize and humiliate it and weaken those who tried to gain his favour through their deeds – and this is forbidden love!
The “Majnoun of Tunisia” continues his coup that he started on 25 July last year, after he overturned the Constitution and all the institutions that emerged from it, abolishing the democratic path as a whole. Saied then approved a set of exceptional laws and abolished all oversight bodies. On 22 September, he announced that he granted himself full legislative authority after seizing control of the executive and judicial authorities, putting all power in his hands and rendering Tunisia completely under his control. It was as if a revolution did not occur, did not change anything and did not impose a new reality.
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On 4 June, he carried out a new massacre against the judiciary after issuing a decision to dismiss 57 judges without trial and without being given the right to defend themselves or file a complaint. Saied purposely directed a hit at the judges as he withdrew the classification of an independent authority from them, which was granted to them by the Constitution. Instead, he made them employees subject to the control of the executive authority. This gave him the right to dismiss them – how and when he wanted – based on reports issued by the authorities, as stated in the amendment of Article 20 of the Supreme Judicial Council Charter. The presidential decree stipulated: “The presidential order related to the dismissal of a judge cannot be challenged until after a final criminal ruling is made regarding the charges against them,” meaning the judges are not entitled to object like other citizens when a charge is brought against them.
As is the case with all fascist tyrants, they must beautify their tyrannical decisions in eloquent terms and populist-stylised words that delight the ear in order to hide the truth behind their arbitrary decisions while the hearts of people are drawn to them. Saied claims he is fighting corruption and aspires to build a fair judiciary in the new republic he allegedly built.
Saied wore the cloak of purity and chastity and mounted his horse, waving his sword to fight corruption while calling for his coup republic, which is, in fact, returning Tunisia to the era of dictatorship and tyranny. He is taking Tunisia back to the era of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, when totalitarianism and individual rule were reality, and even further back to the rule of Habib Bourguiba in the 1950s and 1960s. However, Saied is without the honourable qualifications, capabilities and history of Bourguiba against the French occupation, which made up for his actions in the eyes of his opponents who forgave him for many of his mistakes. Saied doesn’t even have Zine El-Abidine’s intellect that allows him to rule alone, as he came from the unknown, outside the world of politics. Ironically, he came from the judiciary, from the Constitutional Court, which he attacked and stopped from working in accordance with the Constitution. Nine years ago, he expressed his fears that the donkey would eat the Constitution, but today, we watch Saied swallow the Constitution whole!
Saied came from the embrace of the Jasmine Revolution, which he attacked and destroyed of all its gains, without which he would not have set foot in the presidential palace in Carthage.
The “judicial massacre” committed by Saied occurred before by all of the tyrants in the region, from their chief who taught them dictatorship and individual rule, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to the youngest of them, Muammar Gaddafi, who is cloned today in the image of Saied. Saied is the new Gaddafi in Tunisian dress.
In 1969, after the horrific defeat of June 1967, Nasser dismissed 190 judges because they refused to integrate the judiciary into the political system. Nasser wanted to continue establishing the foundations of the totalitarian state he founded after his coup in July 1952. He found the perfect opportunity after the defeat and the state of frustration that spread amongst the Egyptian people. He got rid of Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer and his army and became completely in control of it, so all that remained was the judiciary. He wanted to grasp even more of the country by subjecting the judiciary to the regime under a new shiny slogan – i.e. bringing together all of the people’s forces working in the new socialist state and setting up exceptional courts that apply the rulings of the regime to liquidate political opponents through the regime’s judges.
The Baathist regime in Syria and Iraq did not differ much from the Nasserist regime in Egypt. The Baath Party even executed opponents in public squares. As for Gaddafi, he was a student of Abdel Nasser Al-Najeeb, who saw in him his youth and his security over Arab nationalism after him. He followed in the footsteps of his teacher and made the judiciary a tool in his hand to implement the so-called Libyan Great Jamahiriya project and serve his control over all the branches of government to be able to liquidate all his opponents.
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Therefore, Saied does not differ from the other tyrants; they had the same goal – to establish the rule of the individual and remove all obstacles in front of them. To achieve this, the judiciary must be subject to the individual ruler and become part of the political system they control and rule with iron and fire.
In fact, Saied’s battle isn’t against the judges as much as it is against justice, freedom and independence, and not only the independence of the judiciary. That is why all national, political, cultural, union and media forces must stand in solidarity with the judges to curb Saied’s appetite for individual rule and prevent the country from sliding into the abyss.
The actions of the Tunisian judges deserve respect and appreciation. They quickly absorbed the shock, did not surrender to Saied and did not let their arbitrarily dismissed colleagues go to the gallows alone. Rather, all the judges stood in solidarity with them, united in a confrontation against Saied, opposing the executive authority and its attack and entering into a general strike, disrupting the country’s courts.
Some of the most resonant words that were said were by one of the judges to Saied: “Do not forget that today you are the head of state, and tomorrow you’ll be a defendant standing before the judiciary, so preserve its independence if you are innocent.”
Saied will certainly one day stand before the Tunisian judiciary to be tried for his crimes against the Tunisian people. He must take note of this day, as it is a day all tyrants like him, who do not learn any lessons, forget.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.