Heated debates are triggered over the Constituent Assembly, it dwindling membership and the delay in finalising the country’s most important document, the constitution. In almost all Egyptian newspapers columnists have analysed the factors affecting the Constituent Assembly in its process of drafting a constitution. On another note, some writers continued with their weekly dose of criticism of Morsy and his passiveness towards viral societal aspects.
Where is the president taking us?
Touching upon six primary issues to back up his argument against President Morsy’s policies, Al-Aswany asks where Egypt is heading under Muslim Brotherhood rule? The writer condemns Morsy’s passiveness towards the seemingly endless maltreatment of ordinary Egyptians by police officers. One of the bold demands of the 25 January revolution was the cleansing of the Ministry of Interior and cancellation of the National Security apparatus.
Ignoring the continuous fear of molestation affecting Egyptians, Al-Aswany chides Morsy for keeping corrupt police officers still in office. Another critic to Morsy shows up in Al-Aswany’s statements about the new appointment of ministers. The president has typically taken the same path as Mubarak as he picks remnants of the old regime in the new cabinet and strives to strengthen relations with important pro-Mubarak businessmen.
The writer also vilifies the state media under Morsy’s leadership believing that displaying devotion to the Muslim Brotherhood is an alternative to their obsequiousness to Mubarak’s regime. Appointing a Muslim Brotherhood figure as the new minister of media is one of the clearest evidence of the Islamists’ desire to control all messages channeled to the public. Al-Aswany then censures the infrastructure of the Constituent Assembly, claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood general guide is orchestrating the new constitution’s work.
Dominance of the Islamist group has even reached freedom of expression, in the writer’s viewpoint. Shutting down a newspaper and charging any of Morsy’s opponents with insulting the president of the republic reflects the extent to which Egyptians’ opinions are monitored and censored. Finally, the writer condemns Morsy’s ongoing affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood, with its opaque funding sources.
The constitution comes first, second and third
The recent withdrawal of Constituent Assembly members has prompted Qandil to question the cloudy atmosphere around the process of writing the new constitution. The withdrawal of Manal Al-Teiby from the assembly diminishes Qandil’s expectation of seeing a balanced constitution anytime soon. President Morsy’s promise to appoint an additional five members to the body never eventuated, leading many to start losing faith in the whole situation. In Qandil’s view, it will not be an easy pill for Egyptians to swallow if there is to be another referendum of constitutional amendments.
Therefore, the Constituent Assembly must start functioning proactively, showing ordinary citizens the outcomes of their endless sessions of discussions. Day after day, Qandil believes Egyptians are more concerned with the content of the coming constitution and the controversy associated with its drafting procedure. The hazy picture of the new Egyptian constitution sends analysts imaginations into overdrive creating visions of a new authoritarian system.
To conclude, Qandil states that Egyptians are regretting choosing to elect a president first before writing a constitution. Today, the situation compels us all to make having a constitution our first, second and third priority.
Mercy for the living and the dead
Moataz Billah Abdel Fatah
The Constituent Assembly should finalise the new constitution in the least time possible, states Abdel-Fatah. The timing aspect is of extreme importance, because the longer Egypt is without a constitution, the worse the performance of almost all the country’s organisations. Given the urgency, the writer hopes that the committee writing the document won’t get lost in insignificant details.
He argues that constitutional articles should be phrased in a more general format that keeps the process away from pointless disputes. Another point that Abdel-Fatah raises is the necessity of removing religion from the second article of the constitution.
The “artificial Islamisation” of constitutional articles should not be present in a constitution which supposedly reflects all segments of the population. The writer argues that the second constitution does not require whoever amends the laws to do so in harmony with Islamic Shari’a.
Backing up his argument, Abdel-Fatah believes that pushing Al-Azhar as a mediating institution will turn the body into a forum for political struggles. The writer concludes by suggesting the production of a temporary constitution to fill the widening gap in this critical transitioning phase. Probably a new Constituent Assembly should be formulated every ten years to draft a permanent document for Egypt.