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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs