Draft of the Egyptian Constitution
By: Lofty Basta MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FACP, FACC, FCCP, FAHA
The new draft of the Egyptian Constitution reminds me of the National Geographic in which after you see a creature handled by the rest in the “Wild Kingdom” it becomes unrecognizable any more. I wrote, in the past, that Egypt is not ready yet to write a new Constitution. I argued that a chosen handful of Egyptian scholars, noted for their competence and knowledge, write a “Bill of Rights” that applies to ALL Egyptians, and that Egypt can live for now with its flawed amended 1971 Constitution until the informed Egyptians appreciate a new one that will affect the lives of future generations.
I was hopeful that humanity could prevail over the deadly consequences of religious fervor. This draft is flawed and should never be ratified.
They say that the Camel used to be a horse put together by a committee; this draft is not even a Camel. One hundred individuals mostly Islamists were entrusted with the task of drafting this document. They came up with Hodge Podgy contradictory ideas that are not rooted in history or traditions and do not reflect the aspirations of Egyptians who demanded justice, democracy and modernity on January 25, 2011. Did our youth die for this thing? Are the women happy with this draft? Does it protect ALL Egyptians (especially religious minorities)? This draft represents cut and paste from the 1971 Constitution which it is supposed to replace with ambiguous religious additions and affords tremendous powers to the President of Egypt It is incoherent and contains lots of inconsistencies. It echoes the Salafist’s paradoxes; they dress and look in a way that was customary 1400 years ago, demonize other religions, deliver fiery sermons, espouse the return to what they claim to be the essence of Islam while they have an elaborate web page, communicate with the latest in technology, own two dozen or so TV stations that extol Islam and disparage Christianity, drive modern cars and live lavishly. It has many foreseen and unpredictable consequences. To name a few, I cite the following:·
Egypt will continue to deteriorate albeit at a faster pace. The previously fallen autocracy will be, most likely, replaced by a potentially brutal autocracy·
The role of the Mosque and the Church will be strengthened further, rather than weakened as desired. They will be forced to be involved in shaping the future of Egypt.·
Religion will take center stage at the expense of Egypt’s multitude of issues that need repair; there are no credible parties, civic Institutions or determination anymore to become a modern country. Successful business men will leave out of frustration.·
Tourism may see an increase of visitors from Qatar or other Arab countries but the West will be more leery to visit Egypt in this state until it demonstrates stability and security.·
The scourges of corruption, inefficiency and bureaucracy will continue to plague the country and there will be no end in sight to eradicate these ills.·
Women and religious minorities will fear more for their lives, recognition and future. Some of them will seek haven somewhere else.Is this the
Egypt that we were hoping for and were proud of, or this is a distorted picture that was never expected? Ask any successful business man: is this machine capable of producing the desired product of a modern democratic Egypt? The answer is an obvious resounding no.Scrap this distorted draft and postpone having a new constitution.
Let us start by drafting a “Bill of Rights” that ensures justice and equality for all Egyptians, assert the supremacy of law, check the authority of the President and put religion in its appropriate place in a democratic society.