An independent judiciary, in my mind, is the single most important element of any
truly accountable system of governance, as it provides a last resort check against abuses of power, against tyranny. That is why most governments try to manipulate or control their judicial systems – including, as we have witnessed in recent days, the United States.
The consequences of a dependent and manipulated judiciary are evident all over the Middle East, in the form of constitutions that lack credibility, laws that are not uniformly applied, security and military establishments that dominate the executive and legislative branches of government, abuse of power and corruption run wild, and, ultimately, citizens who have lost faith in the integrity of their state and who turn elsewhere for a sense of identity, protection, and services.
It is also noteworthy that Islamist groups all over the region have for decades invoked "justice" (along with "dignity") as a rallying cry. The massive shift in power toward Islamists is in part driven by the ordinary citizen's need to believe that he or she belongs to a society and a government that treats him or her fairly.
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