News / Africa

Analysts Note Serious Problems in Egyptian Constitution

Analysts Note Serious Problems in Egyptian Constitutioni
X
December 21, 2012 10:12 PM
Egyptians are expected to approve their new constitution in a final round of voting on Saturday. Liberal opponents say the document opens the door to abuse of democratic freedoms by whoever is in power -- currently the Islamists. The Islamists, who controlled the drafting process, dismiss such concerns, saying the document will bring stability and progress after two years of political turmoil. VOA's Al Pessin in Cairo spoke to constitutional experts to try to sort through the controversy.
Analysts Note Serious Problems in Egyptian Constitution
Al Pessin
Egyptians are expected to approve their new constitution in a final round of voting on Saturday.  Liberal opponents say the document opens the door to abuse of democratic freedoms by whoever is in power -- currently the Islamists.   The Islamists, who controlled the drafting process, dismiss such concerns, saying the document will bring stability and progress after two years of political turmoil. 

Egyptians waited patiently to vote on their new constitution. But the lengthy document is fraught with contradictions.

It guarantees many freedoms.  But it also limits them.

Among the examples, it protects freedom of speech, and expression, but it also bans insulting anyone.

It guarantees freedom of the press, but says the media should operate “in accordance with the basic principles of the state and society.”

It provides for the right to protest, but says civilians can be tried in military courts if they “harm” the military -- one of many vague references in the document.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but only for monotheistic religions, and it makes Islam the state religion and a Sunni interpretation of Muslim Law the “principal source” for all legislation.

According to a competing video from liberal opposition groups, the document opens the door to “poverty, slavery and repression,” and it's a "stew that was cooked too fast and won't please enough of the people."

There is no shortage of partisan rhetoric. But what do independent experts say?

Constitutional law expert Tom Ginsburg, of the University of Chicago Law School, said  much of the draft looks fine, but a few provisions are reason for concern.

“The key question of course when it comes to these provisions in any Muslim country is not what's written on paper but how they're interpreted. And that, I think is where real fear comes into play,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg says that interpretation will be done by more and more Islamist judges if the Islamists control the future government, as expected. And he is particularly concerned about provisions in the constitution that give the military significant power.

The constitution does set up a democratic system, with frequent elections and some division of powers between the president, the parliament and the courts.

But Mina Khalil of the American University of Cairo is concerned that too much is left to a simple majority in parliament or among the people, creating the possibility of abuse by whichever political viewpoint is in power.

“Legally speaking you could live with it, but politically speaking I don't think you can.  If it's supposed to place a check on how the majority rules, this document does not do that,” Khalil

Khalil believes Egypt is heading for a difficult period but says a newly awakened political spirit will serve the country well in the long term.

“So I'm not entirely giving up yet. I strongly believe that the future of the country really will depend on how active people become in its politics,” Khalil said..

There has been plenty of activism in Egypt during the past two years, most of it on the streets. Parliamentary elections expected in February will again test how well liberals and Islamists can channel that energy into politics, and will determine who gets the first chance to interpret the new constitution.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
December 22, 2012 8:04 AM
one do not have to be analyst to see how Romeny&co rigged in US

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More