Egypt Close to Approving New Constitution

Egypt could be close to passing a new constitution. A council of 85 Egyptians has drafted over 200 articles and is waiting for approval from the assembly. Most of the articles have already been approved, and when the whole document is ready, President Morsy can begin the process to make it official. Some citizens feel that this is a step in the right direction while others criticize the government for trying to quickly push out a constitution without giving proper time to debate and revise.

The group writing the constitution is predominantly Islamic. Because of their overwhelming majority, they called for an immediate vote, which caused several members of the opposition to walk out. The replacements were either members of the Muslim Brotherhood or one of their allies, which merely expedited the passing of the new constitution.

Opponents of the constitution have several grievances with its contents. They claim that the rights it would provide are actually fewer than what the 1971 council allowed, especially for women. They also fear that this constitution would push Egypt closer to Sharia law, increasing the influence of Islamists on the government. Quickly passing the new constitution could also be seen as a method devised by President Morsy to take some heat off of his recent declaration to expand his own powers.

The new constitution seems to also have its positive changes. Previous president Hosni Mubarak was severely criticized for jailing protesters who have committed no crimes. One of the new and approved articles prevents persons from being “arrested, searched, incarcerated, deprived of freedom in any way and/or confined” unless it’s ordered by a “competent judge.” Moreover, if a person is jailed, he must be told why within 12 hours, investigators must review the case within 24 hours, and the person’s attorney must be present during their interrogation.

Despite being Egypt’s first freely-elected president, Egypt is still the source of many protests, mostly from groups that oppose the Muslim Brotherhood. Is the new constitution good for Egypt or is it a power grab by the majority party?

Source: CNN

One comment

  1. While it seems like a constitutional article guaranteeing due process is a benefit to the newly revolutionized Egyptian State, if there are more restrictive laws generally then it would seem to be a futile attempt at justice. Egypt society precedes Islam by more than 2,000 years and although the current Government is seeking a more Islamic system, there may be some credibility to the oppositions request for more time before a final constitutional decision is made.

    Many know that Egypt has not always been the most liberal nation: under the Pharaohs Jews were subjected to slavery, and the Mubarak regime was less than savory. However, for all intents and purposes Egypt has been traditionally associated with progressive, inclusive, and modern societies. The advancements made in ancient times and participation in a more western style of economics are examples of the trademark progressiveness of Egyptian Governments; and in a time when radical Islam continues to gain simultaneous acceptance and criticism, Egypt should be weary of imposing Sharia Law.

    Understandably, Sharia Law may not be what the average “western” mind believes it to be (cruel and unusual); however, for Egypt–and more specifically Morsy’s Government–to abandon its standing as one of the progressive predominately Muslim nation may be political suicide. Egypt relies heavily on U.S. Aid, and may face a serious reduction in benefits if it adopts this new Islamic heavy constitution. The fact of the matter is that there is a strong opposition to despotic rule–whether it originates from the Government or God. The Egyptian people have not rallied in masses at Tahrir Square for their health.

    It would be wise for Egypt to remain a progressive, western friendly nation. In the interests of financial assistance and global partnership, Egypt would retain the best path by hearing its people out and making a decision when it is sure that it has the support of the people. With the revolution barely out of its infancy, there is something to be said about a patient, responsive Government. Morsy has much to gain, but even more to lose; therefore, I think that if he seeks to advance his Islamic positions and ensure longevity, then he needs to be weary of unpopular action and mind his manners before his constituents and the international community.

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