I believe a thank you to the presidency is in order, after it issued a clear and definitive statement denying the release of a new constitutional declaration that would change the nature of work of the Committee of 50, as was incorrectly rumoured by prominent members of this committee.
Egypt's constitution: Warning to the Committee of 50
Friday ,11 October 2013
Such rumours triggered confusion and suspicion about the roadmap, which the masses approved and are awaiting precise implementation of.
Now, the Committee of 50 can focus entirely on its historic mission of amending the 2012 constitution to meet the expectations of the people, so the final product contains articles that better express Egypt, its people and their aspirations for the future, progress, justice and equality.
Debates and discussions among committee members to delete, add or amend an article are to be expected, as long as members are committed to the general framework of the constitutional declaration, issued on 8 July. The problem arises when some members believe they have the right to ignore this commitment and demand structural changes to the constitutional declaration and the nature of the committee itself for personal reasons, publicity or imagined heroic motives. We must reject such action and warn those responsible that they are violating the rights of the people and the trust placed in them.
Gentlemen, under these critical conditions Egypt is better off without your imagined heroics or mental disorders. The country needs silent action and achievements without this obnoxious racket and instigation. Anyone who feels the task he was given is not what he thought it would be, he must step down immediately so another who appreciates national responsibility can replace him at this delicate time.
While Egypt may have been previously cursed with politicians, activists, political party members and some opinion makers who do not appreciate their responsibility, pushed the country to the brink and cost it dearly, one should not repeat the same mistakes, although the price appears steep. If they repeat the same mistakes on purpose, then this proves they are fools, foreign agents or traitors of the people and nation. Naturally, such characters have no place in leading or managing the country; they should step aside and disappear voluntarily. If not, no one will tolerate them.
Egypt desperately needs to implement the roadmap punctually, precisely, and without people trying to outsmart each other. It also needs those who appreciate the components of the Egyptian character and higher public good, which all Egyptians – or at least the sweeping majority – agree on.
Since the constitution is an important document that requires consensus in order for us to cross this defining moment onto more solid and cohesive grounds, I believe the mission of the Committee of 50 is to find the common denominators among Egyptians and not just pander to small groups on the margins. The Committee must always remember that Egyptians on 30 June revolted against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood because this group dealt with state and society with arrogance, extremism and exclusion. The result was that the arrogant went to the dustbin of history and the people remained, proud.
Thus, the Committee of 50 must view Article 3 – which gives Christians and Jews the right to abide by their own religious laws – with the understanding that Egyptians recognise the three monotheistic religions. Any attempt to circumvent this obvious fact is a malicious intellectual and behavioural coup that will trigger social and political repercussions that are best avoided.
If there is insistence on using the term 'non-Muslims' instead of Christians and Jews, many who view themselves as advocates of a modern civil state will have reason to oppose this constitution. Meanwhile, Islamists and others who oppose the roadmap and 30 June revolution will also have good reason to stir more objections and win more supporters. I believe the wise men on the committee understand these expected outcomes when they succumb to demands by a handful that are certain to result in disaster, and greatly undermine passing the constitution as a whole.
Writing the constitution is not a battle between members of the committee, with winners and losers. It is a battle between writing a consensual constitution or a flimsy constitution that is not a true expression of society and its aspirations. If some want to drag Egypt towards their personal perspective, they are doing what the Muslim Brotherhood did before them. We urge those in charge of achieving the goals of the 30 June revolution to protect the country from such dangerous confrontations and catastrophic outcomes.
Article 3 and its amendments are not the only disconcerting issues in the expected draft constitution. There is unnecessary political one-upmanship and blackmail by some regarding articles dealing with the Armed Forces. Whether it’s about the army’s role and stature as an institution in charge of a vital and sacred mission – protecting the nation and people from foreign and domestic threats – or how to maintain its prestige, which is primarily in the hands of the people since they are the creators of this institution, supply it with human resources, pay for it and thus are the ones who should protect its prestige and role.
Accordingly, I believe any citizen, whether civilian or military, who dares to insult, assault or sabotage any military facility or equipment or target a soldier on duty should face a military tribunal. This is an international standard that all countries apply to protect their national security and army, which is essentially made up of the people. This is only fair; how can we leave a soldier, facility or equipment – paid for by the state – as a target for a saboteur or attacker or terrorist and protect these perpetrators and even reward them? How can we demand civilian trials for them in courts that cannot appreciate the full dimensions of an attack on a member of the Armed Forces?
This has nothing to do with protecting national security or a consensual constitution; it’s an insult to the entire country and violates a supreme value. I fear such one-upmanship will continue to put pressure on the work of the committee and in the end will result in a distorted constitution. At which point we would adamantly reject it.