News / Africa

Concern Mounts Over Egypt's Proposed Constitution

An anti-Morsi protester smokes a cigarette and and gestures in front of members of the Republican Guard blocking a road to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012. An anti-Morsi protester smokes a cigarette and and gestures in front of members of the Republican Guard blocking a road to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012.
x
An anti-Morsi protester smokes a cigarette and and gestures in front of members of the Republican Guard blocking a road to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012.
An anti-Morsi protester smokes a cigarette and and gestures in front of members of the Republican Guard blocking a road to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott
— Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gave the writers of Egypt's new constitution an extra three months to complete their task.  But with a possible court challenge to their legitimacy looming, the mainly Islamist drafters pushed through the document in an extraordinary all-night session late last month.

With liberal and secular lawmakers boycotting the process, critics called the document a farce and took to the streets in protest.

They fear that in a referendum set for Saturday, a majority in this devoutly Muslim nation might say "Yes."

Mustafa el Labbad is the director of Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies.  He argues a constitution should not be about straight numbers.

“A constitution could be drafted and issued and agreed upon - a compromise from all factions and all parties.  You cannot think you have the majority, slight majority, so you can do what you want,” he said.

Concern Mounts Over Egypt's Proposed Constitutioni
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott and Japhet Weeks
December 11, 2012
Writers of Egypt's draft constitution have created a charter that has left many legal scholars and rights groups concerned. Before a national referendum set for Saturday, VOA's Elizabeth Arrott and Japhet Weeks take a look.

Despite the outcry from opponents, some observers believe the draft is not a blueprint for the imposition of strict sharia law.

 "It has some positive elements," said political sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo.  "It has negative elements.  It has also omissions.  It has also minefields.”

It is unclear which "principles of Sharia," as indicated in the draft, would guide legislation.  Sadek contrasts, as an example, two prominent scholars, one who would grant equality to women, another who would have them stay at home.

“So this is Sharia.  And this is Sharia.  Which one do you want to apply?" he asked. " Progressive Sharia, or reactionary Sharia?"

While some drafters say they seek a modern, moderate Islamic state, Human Rights Watch Egypt Director Heba Morayef says intentions are irrelevant.  She objects to provisions that have the government overseeing morality and family life.

“The text allows that kind of discretion to the government to interfere and to limit rights, to limit very basic rights on the basis of these broad concepts of morality of the 'true nature of the Egyptian family.'  That fundamentally weakens any rights protection in the constitution," she said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which dominated the drafting assembly, dismisses critics, arguing the draft realizes "dreams of building a democratic regime."

Drafters are also campaigning to persuade Egyptians their rights - including freedom of speech - will be protected.  Curiously, in an animated video they released, many of the cartoon figures have no mouths.

With Egypt so polarized, Sadek advocates reviving the old constitution temporarily, with some of the amendments passed last year, then reaching consensus over time when the atmosphere becomes calmer.

“America took 10 years, so many countries, because they know that the constitution can lead to a big disaster and division in the country, postpone it," he said.

But with the referendum set for Saturday, the chance of achieving calm or consensus appears slim.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
December 11, 2012 9:52 AM
How does the delay in a monetary fund influence the crisis in Egypt and the words of it's Constitution? By placing the conditions that 'you will do this and this before I give you any money'

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid