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Problems on hold

Youssef Sidhom

25 Jul 2013 9:06 pm

For a constitution that fulfils aspirations

We can proudly claim that the Egyptian achievement of putting an end to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rule on 30 June is tantamount to a second crossing of the Suez Canal. The first crossing in October 1973 led to an outcome of epic historical proportions:

We can proudly claim that the Egyptian achievement of putting an end to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rule on 30 June is tantamount to a second crossing of the Suez Canal. The first crossing in October 1973 led to an outcome of epic historical proportions: a peace treaty with Israel that put an end to 25 years of a state of war between them, and that allowed Egypt to regain Sinai after six years under Israeli occupation. The ‘second crossing’ of 30 June left Egyptians in thrall at the mission accomplished; they reclaimed their revolution of 25 January 2011 which they had lost to the Islamists. 
The relief, joy and pride of the post-30 June Egyptians were well-earned. Their rebellion was no mere volcano of wrath; it qualifies as a massive earthquake that brutally shook political Islam in the region and the world over; driving Islamists to reconsider their time-honoured strategy of conspiring to tyrannise peoples and nations. 
Egypt today is taking her first confident, hopeful steps towards putting into action the Roadmap detailed in the Armed Forces’ statement at the overthrow of the MB regime, the goal being to attain democratic reform. An interim president, Judge Adly Mansour was sworn in. His first speech was concise, sedate, and insightful, driving one young woman to spontaneously cry: “That’s it…At last we have a President we can be proud of, and we have a State again.” A Constitutional Declaration was issued to outline the principles Egypt is to follow during the interim period until the [Islamist] 2012 Constitution is amended. A new government of competent technocrats was formed, generating a general sense of optimism. Another spontaneous comment I overheard was: “What a joy! A cabinet that exudes confidence! We were living through a nightmare under the Islamists.”
Amid the general rejoicing, and lest we get too engrossed in celebrating and forget the work ahead, I would like to remind everyone of the challenges that await us. We should not let the triumph of regaining Egypt get to our heads, so that we forget the serious, assiduous work of making the Roadmap a success. Our will should be expressed in force through the referendum for the constitution and the parliamentary and presidential elections; otherwise, we risk again losing our revolution to groups that can mobilise their forces against us. 
I don’t think Egyptians need to be warned against underestimating the perils of the upcoming period. Whether out of a sheer sense of relief and reassurance that the MB are no longer a political force to be reckoned with, or because of fragmentation or political discord among the liberals, disregarding the ballot box is bound to have calamitous repercussions. The Islamists—the most organised so far where polls are concerned—may regain power. We must remember that the 30 June scenario of Tamarud (Rebel) cannot be adopted every time Egyptians wish to impose their will. We also cannot count on the Armed Forces to rectify the democratic path time and again, while we rest on our laurels and allow the minority to jump on the bandwagon.
I would like to start with a reading of the Constitutional Declaration issued some two weeks ago, especially that some consider it an indication of the intended amendment of the 2012 constitution. 
The Constitutional Declaration lost no time to slap Copts—and Muslims who call for a modern civic State—with Article 1 which stipulates the rules of sharia law derived from established Sunni canons as the main source of legislation. This article is the same Article 219 of the 2012 constitution that is now being amended; it was pushed into the 2012 constitution in an open conspiracy by the MBs and Salafis and came under fire from the proponents of a modern, civic Egypt. It was thus shocking to see Article 219 crop up as Article 1 in the Constitutional Declaration, and give rise to suspicion that the Salafis are being given a leg-up on account of the Copts and moderate Muslims. ‘The principles of Islamic sharia” had been cited as the main source of legislation in the 1970 constitution, and should not have been changed into the “rules of sharia”. So it looks like the battle has started early, and confrontation seems inevitable. But we will wait and see what the panel amending the 2012 constitution will do in this regard. 
The last paragraph of Article 10 betrays what looks like a hidden deal with the Salafis. It reads:  “No political party is established basing on discrimination between citizens regarding gender, ethnicity or religion.” There had been high hopes among Egyptians that, instead of this indirect, imprecise wording, there would be a direct ban on political parties based on religion. As it stands, Article 10 leaves the door ajar for religious parties that allege to include all Egyptians. 
We should be extremely vigilant of the political scene at all times. We should follow up closely on the constitutional amendments, and accordingly take up a firm, united stance once it is time for the referendum.
WATANI International
28 July 2013


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