• 08:45
  • Wednesday ,14 November 2012

The angst of writing Egypt’s new constitution

By-Nader Fergany



Wednesday ,14 November 2012

The angst of writing Egypt’s new constitution

 The constitution is the ultimate legal document that will be the foundation, along with the laws based on it, for Egypt to either move forward to install proper democratic rule or regress to tyranny wrapped in the cloak of superficial Islamism.

Therefore, it is necessary to reissue a warning that the legislative chaos and disarray of the constitution that Egypt has suffered since the great people’s revolution has dragged the people and country through the voracious appetite of political Islam to pounce on power.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which ruled after the revolution paved the way for this by insisting on not drafting a constitution before parliamentary and presidential elections are held. May God forgive them.
We must first admit that faltering on drafting the constitution of Egypt after the great people’s revolution and confusion, in a political process that was supposed to peacefully transition into democratic rule, was a result of hidden complicity between the military rulers who hijacked the revolution under the pretext of protecting it and political Islam which rode the revolution wave under the pretence that it is intrinsic to the uprising.
It is now blatantly clear that the repetitious declarations by SCAF of standing at an equal distance from all political forces was nothing more than a ruse to hide a premeditated conspiracy about the future of the people of Egypt, with uninterrupted support by the US administration.
This culminated in the surge of political Islam, including its extremist Salafist wing, in the Constituent Assembly that is drafting the constitution. Some of them are Neanderthals in mind and demeanour – they embody the antithesis of a civil state founded on equal citizenship for all. Under the pretext of applying sharia (Islamic law), they are trying to impose features of a religious state on the regime, and curb some personal freedoms that are fundamental to human rights, especially for girls, women and non-Muslims.
There are many problems with the composition of the Constituent Assembly. It is greatly flawed because of the monopoly by a sweeping majority of political Islam in its composition, and the disgracefully low number of female representatives (7 out of 100 members, five of whom are from the political Islam current). This is currently being deliberated in courts.
At the same time, there have been leaks about restrictions by extremist Salafist Constituent Assembly members that would colour the ruling regime with the hues of theocracy, limit freedom of opinion, expression and creativity.
They would also deny women and girls their rights and personal guarantees from previous eras that were tainted with corruption and tyranny. These include insisting on the marriage of underage girls and many other crimes against the rights of girls and humanity. This has caused several observers and assembly members who resigned to describe the proposed draft constitution as the worst in Egypt’s history.
The real predicament is the hijacking by the Muslim Brotherhood presidency of legislative powers, once SCAF was removed from the picture, which has put the power of reformulating the Constituent Assembly, if the courts dissolve it, in the hands of the president, i.e. the Brotherhood.
Of late, Egyptians are also burdened with a disfigured draft constitution that is unbefitting of the great people’s revolution; this is the consequence of SCAF conspiring with political Islam to hijack the revolution. Ironically, the draft is now rejected by all political forces, including extremist Salafists who manipulated the assembly and ruined the constitution for the rest of the Egyptian people.
Although the legislative decree issued by the president stipulates that if the Constituent Assembly is reformulated it must be representative of all Egyptians, the Brotherhood presidency, however, pre-empted court rulings on the possible dissolution of the assembly by saying that the president would only make minor revisions in the composition of the body. This means that the rule of political Islam wants to impose this disfigured constitution on the Egyptian people for the next 15 years, as one of the articles of the draft constitution stipulates.
The draft constitution, penned by a body dominated by political Islam, is nothing more than a terrorist constitution. Political Islam extremists have outdone the “law tailors” of bygone eras of tyranny, and produced a terrorist draft constitution that transforms Egypt into a large prison where basic freedoms and rights are banished.
It is a terrorist constitution because it restricts all basic rights and freedoms enshrined in human rights charters with ambiguous restrictions worded as: “in a manner that does not contradict God’s laws”. It is also terrorist because the phrase “God’s laws” is broad and multi-faceted; it beholds divine mercy but also could insinuate punishment according to the interpretation of backwards humans who make God’s laws unyielding and repugnant.
Thus, if you tried to defend a right or freedom someone could respond that Sheikh “Unyielding bin [son of] Fanatic” in the city of “Catastrophe” in the year “Calamity” issued an edict that this is an unforgiveable sin.
This inherent enmity towards rights and freedoms is highlighted in the clause on equality between women and men in the draft resolution. The honourable assembly stipulated gender equality with the broad condition “in a manner that does not contradict the rulings of sharia”. These could include such nonsense as a woman cannot leave her home without her husband except for once: to go to her grave.
Once again, I repeat, this is a terrorist draft constitution because anyone who protests restrictions on rights or freedoms could be labelled an apostate, because he supposedly opposes the application of God’s sharia.
While we know that the state in orthodox Islam is purely civil, we have learned from experience that the state in the view of political Islam is a theocracy in the true sense of the word – not as they claimed during their electioneering that it is a civil state with an Islamic character.
The saga of drafting the constitution has clearly revealed that Mohamed Morsi is nothing more than a figurehead president who indulges in trips at home and abroad and prays at a mosque on time, while someone else is plotting Egypt’s legal future. It is rumoured that the deputy Brotherhood Guide was the one who reached a deal with extremist Salafists to add the phrase “in a manner that does not contradict God’s laws” to articles on rights and freedoms, in order to boost his alliance with them.
It is also rumoured that this alliance is the reason why the Deputy Guide will run for office in the coming parliamentary elections and will become House Speaker – to ensure laws issued by parliament comply with this terrorist constitution.
After drafting this disfigured constitution, it is clear that political Islam was never part of the great people’s revolution; neither does it embrace its goals of freedom, justice and human dignity.