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Editor’s letter: Voting for God

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On a 40 minute Metro ride from New Marg station to Saad Zaghloul, trying to avoid the traffic jams across the city caused by anti- and pro-Morsy protests, the political discussions among the passengers are revealing.

In Cairo’s underground system, in which every carriage is always stuffed with hundreds of average Egyptians, people are constantly engaging in heated discussions in a manner that sometimes amounts to verbal sparring. The Islamist produced referendum definitely appears to be confusing to the average citizen, given the political complications surrounding its overnight production almost two weeks ago.

The general atmosphere during the journey is one of condemnation of the Islamist violence against the anti-Morsy protesters last Wednesday night in front of the Presidential Palace which left seven dead and a few hundred injuries from both sides. I believe it is the first time since the beginning of the revolution that the average citizen has a strong and clear opinion of such political-revolutionary developments storming the country.

Interestingly, during these loud discussions and debates, a young man in his late teens starts taking responsibility for defending Islamists, Mohamed Morsy, the constitution and playing the the overused “stability” card. The kid looks to me like a young Muslim Brotherhood member, who are known as Shabab Al Ikhwan (Brotherhood Youth).

I claim I can spot them sometimes from their appearance and at other times from how they fire off memorised maxims one after the other in debates. As far as I am aware, it is a part of their duty to “educate” people through such discussions in the public sphere. Although the young brothers are very obvious when they perform their duty, they do have an influence and people do respond positively to their claims. At the end of the day, they know how to communicate with the people better than anyone else.

In the middle of the condemnation of the Islamists’ violence of that sad Wednesday night, the young brother manages to switch the conversation towards the stability issue, which obviously most passengers agree with. Two revolutionary-looking young men step forward to oppose his claims. Passengers until this moment are neutral as they clearly disapprove of the violent escalations.

The young brother smartly changes tack again and asks, “why not wait for the referendum and let everyone decide democratically?” The majority of the passengers seem to agree with this. So far, all this is healthy for a country that is being politically re-born.

The enthusiastic young revolutionaries oppose the referendum based on their understanding that it is nothing but an attempt to spread the Brotherhood’s power and control over the state’s institutions and the future of Egypt’s political life. The young brother quickly responds, “are you Muslim?” The two revolutionaries respond, yes.

The brother: “What did Shari’a do to you to make you hate it so much?” A moment of silence prevails while they struggle to find the proper response. The kids then explain that they are not against Shari’a at all, but they oppose how the Islamists themselves are not clear about it and yet are using it to increase their power.

The young brother responds, “why don’t you give a Shari’a a chance? What did Shari’a do to you? [repeating the question] Do we know better than Allah?” At this moment the young brother wins the passengers’ approval. The kids lose and, taking advantage of the train stopping, quickly leave.

This conversation is a clear example of the complexity of the political sphere at the moment. We’re a nation that seems to be largely against radical Islam, yet we have a strong sympathy towards whatever relates to religion, and in such a folkloric way, that we can be easily manipulated. It is always a difficult conversation for the revolutionaries to have with the average Egyptian during election times.

Both Islamists and the average citizen alike seem to ignore the lesson of the disastrous referendum of March 2011, when Islamists lobbied for a “yes”, saying this would please God, while a “no” would be against Islam. The majority took the bait. The result is what we now live in constitutional and political chaos that the Islamists themselves were suffering from under the 13-months of absolute military rule, before Morsy came to power.

In an attempt to think like the Islamists, while ignoring their hunger for power, a question always strikes me. Why do they ignore the Medina Constitution of 622? Isn’t it an Islamist constitution produced by the Prophet himself? It is actually a document that some historians consider the first “civil” constitution in human history, which in establishing the first Islamic state granted freedoms and rights to people of different faiths and ethnicities.

Why don’t Islamists re-visit this document and try to find something in it that fits in today’s world? They probably need time to figure that out, but why ignore the concept? Was the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) wrong back then? I don’t think so! And of course today’s Islamists do not dare to think so either.

Then why is it ignored now in principle? Why do they involve God in a political process of losing or winning? How dare Islamists market such a fascist constitution in the 21 century and claim it is what God wants and manipulate the average citizen’s respect of Islam in such a cheap way? What will happen if the majority of people vote “No”? Would that mean that God “lost this battle”?

I believe pushing the people to vote “Yes” on such a defective constitution by appeals to God is the biggest sin against him. It is blasphemy, committed by Islamists.

About the author

Maher Hamoud

Maher Hamoud

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief of The Daily News Egypt. He can be followed on Twitter @MaherHamoud1, his public page on Facebook, or email: [email protected]

  • Ibrahim Yunus

    To the author,

    You said, “The general atmosphere during the journey is one of condemnation of the Islamist violence against the anti-Morsy protesters last Wednesday night in front of the Presidential Palace which left seven dead and a few hundred injuries from both sides.” You imply that the Muslims who support Morsy have carried out an attack which resulted in a death of 7 and injuries from both sides. If you read the newspaper you will find that most if not all of the dead are from the supporters of Morsy (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/egyptian-military-halts-cairo-clashes-after-seven-are-killed-8389573.html).

    Also let’s not complicate things more than they are, any Muslim with a slightest faith in his/her heart will vote ‘YES’ and any otherone with no or weak faith in Islam will vote ‘NO’.

    You need to learn more about what does Islam mean and what does Muslim believe in…you seem to talk about a deeper issue whilst you seem to be confused about the fundamenta reason why Muslims need to have God as part of their life.

    Can’t you see that you lack eman in your heart? Can’t you see that you are addressing an audience where God has nothing to do with political life or personal life. Egypt will remain to be a Muslim nation, it has in the past and God willing it will be in the future even if the disbelievers hate it.

  • Tired of Oppression

    How about having a Constitution which applies all of the principals and protections as stated in the UN Declaration below?

    These include equality for women and full equality for all religions, with no descriminations against any.

    Only a secular, non-religious based Government / Constitution can ensure these freedoms and evenly administer Justice in a Civil Society.

    United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights

    PREAMBLE

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

    Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

    Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

    Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

    Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

    ^ Top

    Article 1.
    •All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    ^ Top

    Article 2.
    •Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

    ^ Top

    Article 3.
    •Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

    ^ Top

    Article 4.
    •No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

    ^ Top

    Article 5.
    •No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    ^ Top

    Article 6.
    • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

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    Article 7.
    • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

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    Article 8.
    • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

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    Article 9.
    • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

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    Article 10.
    • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

    ^ Top

    Article 11.
    • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
    • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

    ^ Top

    Article 12.
    • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    ^ Top

    Article 13.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
    • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

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    Article 14.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
    • (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    ^ Top

    Article 15.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
    • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    ^ Top

    Article 16.
    • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
    • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

    ^ Top

    Article 17.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

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    Article 18.
    • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

    ^ Top

    Article 19.
    • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    ^ Top

    Article 20.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    • (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

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    Article 21.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
    • (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
    • (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

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    Article 22.
    • Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

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    Article 23.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

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    Article 24.
    • Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

    ^ Top

    Article 25.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
    • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

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    Article 26.
    • (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    • (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    • (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

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    Article 27.
    • (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
    • (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

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    Article 28.
    • Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

    ^ Top

    Article 29.
    • (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    • (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
    • (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    ^ Top

    Article 30.
    • Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

  • Tired of Oppression

    How about having a Constitution based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights?

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

    It would make a free civil society with full freedoms for women, religion, press, movement, fair justice for all. And allows NO Descriminations of any types for religion, gender, ethnic / tribal and many other things our people have been oppressed for in the past.

    Wouldn’t it be good to live without fear of thugs and religious fanatics from all groups and to be able to live in peace?

    Daily news, please print a full copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Hassan Muhamed

    How about having a Constitution based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights?

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

    It would make a free civil society with full freedoms for women, religion, press, movement, fair justice for all. And allows NO Descriminations of any types for religion, gender, ethnic / tribal and many other things our people have been oppressed for in the past.

    Wouldn’t it be good to live without fear of thugs and religious fanatics from all groups and to be able to live in peace?

    Daily news, please print a full copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights so people will know what Real Freedoms are and can see if the new Proposed constinuton has them..I think not..

  • Hassan Muhamed

    Why do you not print my comment online?

  • Dr. Reda Sobky

    The exploitation of religion to gain power is as old as power itself. Here we have yet another group of religious imposters who selectively validate what they dream of based on misquoted texts and concepts. It seems that what is desired here is some kind of Iran variant in which the Morshid is not clerical but a top emir under whom a president functions. This novel structure has no precedent outside Iran and is failing so miserably there only a deluded person would wish to emulate it. Maybe their fate is like Abdul Rahman in Indonesia, a few years of failure and then out for 30.


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