The Churches withdrawal from the CA was not an individual act separated from events; many other Egyptian movements found they had to take the same—or similar—decisions.
Since the early formation of the CA last June, the liberal al-Kutla al-Misriya (The Egyptian Bloc) party announced it would have no part in it, since the Islamists insisted that al-Azhar, the Church and the Military were among the ‘liberal’ streams, not the impartial entities.
The Constitutional Court also announced it was not participating in the CA. Several public figures, including the Coptic researcher and human rights activist Samir Morqos, and the legal expert Suad al-Sharqawy, declined from participating.
As work progressed with the writing of the constitution, withdrawals began. Manal al-Teebi, who represented the Nubian people in the CA, withdrew last September, to protest the Islamist hegemony which insisted on hearing no other voice than their own. “If this draft constitution is passed,” Ms Teebi said, “it will be the worst constitution Egypt ever got.”
The poet and activist Farouq Guweida also withdrew on account of what he described as a draft constitution that fails to represent the entire community. He said that the assembly was rife with conflicts and divisions.
“The worst ever”
The syndicate of the acting professions withdrew from the CA, as did the Journalists’ Syndicate Council which said the draft constitution failed to offer due protection to journalists or to press freedom. The fellahin (peasants) representative Mohamed Abdel-Qader who heads their syndicate, withdrew citing disregard of their legitimate demands of land rights.
In mid-November, the 12 members representing the secular movements withdrew. Former Arab League chief, presidential contender, and head of the liberal al-Mu’tamar party Amr Moussa, said that the Islamists dominated the CA and “refused” to accept the others.
Members of the consultative body of the CA announced they were withdrawing from the assembly, but were proceeding with their work on their own. They will present, they said, a comprehensive draft constitution that would befit Egypt and achieve the 25 January 2011 Revolution’s objectives of freedom and social justice. The consultants complained that the assembly never gave them the space to offer suggestions or amendments, precisely what they were there for. The expertise of the specialised consultant body was thrown to the wind.
The last, so far, to announce his withdrawal has been Wahid Abdel-Megid, who had acted as spokesman of the CA and who is an active member of the MB. Abdel-Megid said that he withdrew because the CA off-handedly discounted his [expert] opinions and implicated his name in conflicts he had no hand in.
In the end, the draft constitution was passed by an 85-member CA; 74 members belonged to the original panel and 16 were brought in to replace those members who had withdrawn. The 16, however, were Islamist.
2 December 2012