Tomorrow marks the end of the year 2012, and the day after begins 2013. Good wishes for the New Year will be flowing in all directions; in Egypt however,
these wishes will be pronounced parrot-like, as feelings of bitterness, frustration, and pain engulf Egyptians; and tears form a mist that blurs any vision for a better future.
A new constitution for the country has been passed, but the venture has left Egypt divided, its people on the verge of civil war. Instead of the joy of having a new constitution born in public concord and consensus, the general sentiment among Egyptians is a blend of grief, suspicion, conflict, ambush, and distrust among fellow citizens. Egypt closes two years of revolution with a bitter harvest of losses that far exceed any benefits; a revolution that lost its way.
Egypt embarks on 2013 in a state of self-dissonance. The cornerstones of the State are shaky. The ruling regime has succeeded with flying colours in its onslaught against the judiciary, imagining it could itself replace it. In its vicious assault, the regime allowed itself to exploit the outlaw mob as a ready tool to terrorise the judiciary and ban judges from reaching the courts. What grief for Egypt when the decision-maker relies on the tumult and terror of the mob instead of resorting to the wisdom and greatness of the country’s judges and law!
Egypt starts the New Year with its economy in shambles, heading straight towards bankruptcy and ruin. The intense, and further intensifying, internal struggles; the absent political stability and security; and the lost State dignity and rule of law; all work to drive away business and investment, local and foreign alike. Real development or job opportunities vanish into thin air, and with them the hopes of Egyptians in the outcome of a revolution which called for bread, freedom, social justice, and dignity. All they are getting now is spiralling inflation and almost non-existent job opportunities.
Amid this depressive, agonising scene, we hear the rejoicing ululations of those Egyptians who are happy with the new constitution. The joy is an attempt to overshadow the scenario of the making, drafting, and approval of this constitution. This involved countless irregularities in order to push it through despite the disapproval of a substantial proportion of Egyptians who saw in it a curtailment of their rights, confiscation of their age-old moderation, and a threat to their future. To say nothing of the doubtful legality of the constitution, which led the political authority to immunise it against any court ruling.
Egypt appears headed to serial political and community conflict. No one can tell if the political leadership possesses the rudiment of wisdom that would lead it to initiate national conciliation and reunification, or whether that leadership’s appetite for hegemony would still lead it to let half the Egyptians rage at the other half. The passing of the new constitution places Egypt at a crossroads: If national conciliation is achieved, we could move on to change the points of contention in the constitution to work towards a more balanced, consensual document that would represent all Egyptians. The document would then be endorsed by the national forces and the President, and later presented to an elected parliament for approval. If, on the other hand, the desire for hegemony takes over, we would in all probability be headed towards a frenzy of dubious laws to be legislated by the Shura Council which now possesses the interim authority of legislation until a new People’s Assembly is elected.
Despite the dismal entry into the new year, and the loss sustained by the secular forces in the battle for a constitution that roots a civic, moderate, democratic State; there remains one point of light. The policies and decisions of President Mursi, starting with his Constitutional Declaration on 22 November, have worked to end the fragmentation of the secular opposition forces, and unite their ranks. It is to be hoped that that unity would remain intact till the parliamentary elections scheduled two months from now. Perhaps the secular opposition may be able to achieve then what it failed to achieve where the constitution was concerned. Bearing in mind that, even though constitutions instate the main pillars over which a community is established, it is the laws and regulations that control everyday life. Meaning that, even if there are suspicions of Islamist intentions to usurp legislation, it is yet in our power to curb such intentions and rescue the legislative power. But this can only come about through hard work and closing ranks.
30 December 2012
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