News / Middle East

    Egypt Prepares New Constitution

    Egypt Prepares 4th Constitution Since 2010i
    X
    November 15, 2013 2:47 PM
    Egypt is rewriting its constitution, with a small group appointed by the military-backed government overhauling the previous, Islamist driven charter. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott in Cairo reports on the effort so far.
    Elizabeth Arrott
    Egypt’s constitution is being rewritten by a small group appointed by the military-backed government, overhauling the previous, Islamist-driven charter. This will be the country’s fourth constitution in less than three years.
     
    A 50-member committee is overseeing what's meant to be the first step of a “roadmap” to reshape Egypt's government following the July ousting of the country's first freely-elected president, Islamist Mohamed Morsi.
     
    Morsi pushed through last year's charter, written mainly by Islamists, using extraordinary powers. The move sparked a wave of popular unrest and marked the beginning of his political decline.
     
    For Morsi’s opponents, the potential for improving on the previous charter is vast.
     
    “The constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood was, in my opinion, violating social and civil rights of the Egyptians. They tried to educate and re-educate Egyptians how to behave,” said Mustafa Labbad, the director of the Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies.
     
    Foremost among critics’ objections was what was perceived as an attempt to Islamize Egypt. The new draft, being drawn up by a group with noticeably few Islamists, promises to lift longstanding restrictions on Christian churches, but seems likely to retain overall limits on religious beliefs.
     
    Political sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo said he wishes the country could move beyond recognizing only the Abrahamic faiths.
     
    “It would have given the signal that Egypt is modern, into the 21st century, [that] it does not discriminate against 51 percent of the world's population who don't believe in Christianity, Islam and Judaism,” said Sadek.
     
    Committee members are also tackling the other major issue in Egyptian politics today - the role of the military and the balance of power among branches of government. 
     
    Few of the members have raised questions about the military's attempt to put protections for itself into the new constitution. Labbad is not surprised.
     
    “Military institutions will be the dominant force in the upcoming political system and we have to confess, since at least 200 years [ago], Egyptian military institutions [have been] controlling the country,” said Labbad,
     
    There are hints, however, that some dynamics may shift.  The group has already decided to abolish the upper house of parliament; additionally, it appears to favor a greater division of responsibilities between the president and the prime minister.
     
    For a country that has undergone profound changes in recent years, some feel an imperfect document, even if again drafted quickly by a small and not fully representative group, may be enough for now.
     
    “We hope that this constitution becomes interim, [that] it is not going to be permanent, [that] it is going to stay some time until things improve, until there is lower illiteracy rate, lower poverty rate,” explained Sadek.
     
    The final draft is expected to be put to a public referendum next month, clearing the way for parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mukabarat from: Saudi Arabia
    November 15, 2013 6:08 PM
    hey Egyptians, you can buy a whole stack of "constitutions" from Russia or North Korea... they are made in China, you know... Libya bought six hundred... the Zimbaboans wrap fish in them... they are really good... as fish wrappers that is...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora