Islam Law And Human Rights In The Middle East

2116 words - 9 pages

Law 32 of 2002 requires that prospective societies apply to the Ministry of Social Affairs for a license. One clause of the law forbids members of trade unions and professional syndicates to form any association to pursue activities appropriate to that union or profession (Zubaida 1992: 8). The Ministry of Social Affairs may also refuse the formation of a society because there is no need for it or because an existing society fulfills the same function. Moreover, the Ministry can even dissolve the board of management of a society and appoint his own nominees for a maxium period of three years. The appointment then has control over the society’s funds, as well as the ability to amalgamate it with another society. In addition to these requirements, there are also subject to internal governance (Article 34), activities (Article 48), Funding (Article 17), Fiscal Regime (Article 13) among others (Zubaida, 2002: 7).
Despite powers afforded to the Ministry by Law 32, unions and professional syndicates are the height of public life in Egypt. Most notably, the lawyers’ syndicate has been at the forefront of the campaign for human rights and the rule of law. As Eddin Ibrahim mentions above, representation of workers at a public level are a necessary component of civil society. Indeed, the Egyptian unions are the drivers of formal representation on boards and for communication between workers, management and government (Zubaida 2002:8). They also lobby social welfare benefits to their members, and are avenues for education training and promotion. However, unions and syndicates remain closely tied to government. Zubaida explains that only the existing single union for each industry remains licensed and the formation of independent unions is forbidden. Strikes remain outlawed under emergency regulations; for example, the steel, textiles and railway strikes of the 1980s and 1990s were harshly repressed by the police. This evidently raises questions as to the borders of civil society and of the state and, certainly, the second and third standards: the existence of unions and syndicates does not directly correlate with the use of reason and practice of communities.
Egyptian activists have pressured for a change in the strike laws and for greater privatization of parts of the public sector may allow for further union autonomy (ibid: 8). In addition, to use Zabaida’s example of the medical syndicate: there has been a tendency for recent medical graduates to bring Islamist ideologies prevailing in universities into the profession. There has also been a pattern of provision of medical services by hospitals and clinics attached to mosques and Islamic charities (Zubaida 2002: 9). The result being that syndicates, which are increasingly becoming a part of the informal Muslim sector, are also becoming a key pillar of civil society in Ibrahim’s sense, as opposed to lying on the boundary. They provide voluntary associations that offer a democratic opportunity to...

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