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Campaign assembles NGOs against draft constitution

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NGOs say president ignored them

The “Civil par Excellence” campaign, representing a coalition of 230 NGOs, discusses their operating structure and resistance to the draft constitution. (DNE / Hassan Ibrahim)

The “Civil par Excellence” campaign, representing a coalition of 230 NGOs, discusses their operating structure and resistance to the draft constitution. (DNE / Hassan Ibrahim)

The Civil par Excellence campaign held a press conference at the Egyptian Cultural Club on Saturday to announce their plans to defend the civil state of Egypt.

The campaign rejects the draft constitution and government restrictions on civil society. Two hundred and thirty NGOs have joined the campaign so far.

Hagag Nayel, a lawyer and director of the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA), which has joined the campaign, said they had formed a temporary executive office. The conference discussed the campaign’s headquarters, logo and funding.

“The campaign will be funded by donations and individual efforts. Since our agenda is a very national and internal one, we refuse any foreign funds” Nayel said.

The campaign held its launching conference last week and one day later it was announced that President Morsy met with representatives of the NGOs, but Nayel is sceptical. “Who did the president meet with if every organization and every activist I know said he wasn’t there?” Nayel said.

Hassan Youssef, member of the board of trustees of Egyptian Human Rights said “The presidency think… charity organisations affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood are the only NGOs in Egypt… they are probably the ones who met the president.”

The campaign’s main fight is against the constitution, Nayel described it as a “sectarian” constitution that discriminates between people based on ethnicity and religion.

“Egyptians are back to a state of desperation, they lost hope in their revolution” Youssef said, adding that the constitution doesn’t mention anything about human rights or the treaties that Egypt has signed in that area; “we are losing the rights we claimed on 25 January.”

Nayel and Youssef both said the campaign would take action against what is happening in Gaza, such as sending aid and pressuring the international community. This caused conflicts among the attendees; some of them considered Gaza off topic in a conference about the civil state, while others considered this view far from human rights activism.

Youssef considered the number of NGOs that joined the campaign a small one; he said that 230 NGOs out of 6,000 functioning in Egypt means they need more expansion.

The Civil par Excellence campaign started on 8 November and has gathered the signatures of 230 NGOs. It has asked the Constituent Assembly to halt its work until its fate is decided by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The campaign also calls for a civil work law based on international treaties. It is also expanding on the local level, with about 110 NGOs from governorates other than Cairo.

“We received an invitation from NGOs in Alexandria to establish a branch for the campaign there… the campaign will be decentralized,” Nayel said.


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