A view of Egypt’s future constitution

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

By Abdel Latif El-menawy

The draft of the Egyptian constitution, labeled the constitution of the future, has finally been disclosed for public opinion.

The document, that was leaked by some of its architects, came as expected; disappointing and deceiving to those who still had some hope for the future of Egypt.

But to be fair, it did not come out as disastrous as many had expected. That may be due to the civilians who played a role in the drafting of the document.

Hereunder, I will outline the main details of the new constitution.

The initial constitution draft seemed as if the authors were writing an essay with a lot of undefined adjectives. Such a constitution would not suit future generations with their progress in technical legal drafting.

The imprecise text of the constitution could be interpreted differently by different individuals, and the document is full of unclear wording.

Article 4 of the constitution states that Egypt’s al-Azhar council of senior scholars is the sole body authorized to interpret Shariah (Islamic law) in the country. This is a reproduction of the Guardianship of the Jurist (Wilayat al-Fakih) system in Iran.

Article 6 indicates regression in important issues concerning the Egyptian state. It ignored the previous texts over banning the establishment of any political parties based on religious bases. This text was replaced by a proposed text stating that political parties shouldn’t divide citizens according to religion. This is an easily manipulative text. This was clear when one of the most Muslim fundamentalist parties in the country succeeded in attracting non-Muslims, who expressed their readiness to play any role whatsoever. This is a kind of apparent and legal cover for those parties. This particle article, with its current context, was mainly designed to facilitate the process of twisting of the meaning, and thus passing the completely opposite context.

Article 10 uses imprecise and multi-faceted expressions. It states: “The government and the community are committed to observe and protect moral ethics, to empower the Egyptian customs, and ensure a high level of education, religious and national values, scientific facts, Arab culture, historic heritage and the civilization of the people; all this, according to the law.”

This text is inundated with vague language; expressions like “authentic Egyptian traditions” and a “high level of religious education and values,” such terms are subject to different interpretation.

These imprecise expressions are also a tool to control and terrorize all those who have different opinions; a tool that allows the country’s leaders to victimize certain people. What is strange is that these texts were ratified by some well-balanced and rational members in the deciding committee.

Another trap in the new article links men and women’s equity to Shariah, not to common principles. The difference between law and principles is that the first is adjustable according to the place and time but the second is eternal.

The absence of economists in the constituent assembly that drafts the new constitution has been acutely reflected in the lack of economic texts in the articles.

This draft includes many observations; some of them are in dire need of real debate. The most significant remark is the importance of rescuing Egypt and its future generations from an uncertain future.


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