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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora