The council of the Teachers Syndicate, which was formerly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral bloc, issued a statement Tuesday denouncing the state’s temporary takeover of the council as “unconstitutional.”
On Monday the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters issued a verdict placing the Teachers Syndicate under state sequestration until new elections are held. The court cited financial irregularities and the misappropriation of funds as the reason for the move.
In light of Monday’s verdict, the minister of education was instructed to purge the syndicate council of the Brotherhood bloc and appoint a caretaker committee to preside over the syndicate until elections can be held to replace the council — which had been dominated by the Brotherhood since the elections of 2011.
The Teachers Syndicate is the largest professional association in the country, with some 1.2 million members affiliated to local branch syndicates across Egypt’s 27 governorates. Monday’s verdict wrested the Teachers Syndicate from the Brotherhood’s grip.
The decision follows a number of attempts by disgruntled teachers nationwide to withdraw their confidence from the general syndicate council.
Claims were levelled against the Brotherhood’s electoral bloc to the effect that they were using syndicate funds to finance the activities of the Islamist group, which the state classified as a terrorist organization on December 25, 2013.
The now-dissolved council of the Teachers Syndicate claimed that the court verdict represents a violation of Egypt’s new Constitution, specifically Article 77, which mandates that “no sequestration shall be imposed on syndicates, and no intervention from administrative authorities in its affairs is permitted.”
However, the article does allow for judicial intervention, stipulating: “A syndicate council may not be dissolved without a court order, and the syndicate shall be consulted regarding legislation related to it.”
The statement issued by the Brotherhood bloc claimed this verdict is “a setback in the history of syndicate organizing, and takes us back to the era before the [January 25] Revolution. It represents a genuine threat to the professional syndicates in general and not only the Teachers Syndicate. It also seeks to restore the bygone Law No. 100, of 1993, which halted syndicate freedoms” for nearly 20 years under Mubarak.
Law 100 (1993) “Guaranteeing Democracy in Professional Syndicates,” allowed for judicial sequestration of professional associations if their elections did not meet predetermined quorums — although no such quorums exist for governmental elections. This law, formulated to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from capturing syndicate elections with low voter turnouts, was ruled unconstitutional in January 2011.
Speaking on the TV show Masr Kol Yom on the Mehwar 2 satellite channel, teacher Ayman al-Beyali, who had filed the legal petition against the Brotherhood-led council, commented: “Today we have liberated the largest syndicate for teachers in the Middle East from the control of the Brotherhood’s terrorist organization.”
Beyali claimed that the Brotherhood was exploiting and misappropriating syndicate funds, buildings, facilities and vehicles to support their “terrorist” sit-ins at Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in August last year.
Monday’s verdict against the Brotherhood-controlled Teachers Syndicate is the latest setback for this Islamist group, which has dominated a number of professional associations for more than two decades.
Doctors voted out most Brotherhood members in their mid-term elections held in December, while the general assembly of the Engineers Syndicate issued a vote of no confidence against their Brotherhood-dominated council in January.
Meanwhile, midterm elections held at the Veterinarians Syndicate on March 28 led to a dramatic increase in the number of seats and victories for the Independence Current — a coalition of liberal, centrist and left-leaning medical professionals — at the expense of the Brotherhood’s electoral bloc.