Protesters march to parliament to denounce Constituent Assembly

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By Heba Hesham

CAIRO: Hundreds marched Wednesday from Tahrir Square to the nearby parliament building to protest against the make up of the Constituent Assembly as it held its first meeting.

Activists, political parties and revolutionary movements protested to declare their rejection of the formation of the panel tasked with writing Egypt’s new constitution, saying it was not representative.

“We organized this march to tell the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that all sectors of society refuse the current formation of the panel that will lead to an authoritarian state in the name of religion,” said Hadya Nabil, member of the National Front for Justice and Democracy.

The assembly is made up of 50 MPs and 50 members from outside parliament. Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and followed by the Salafi Al-Nour Party, control almost 60 percent of the 100-member assembly.

“They [MB] stole the revolution to join parliament. Now they are trying to steal the constitution that is unchangeable, saying they are the majority. Majorities change, but the constitution is static for a hundred years,” said Evon Mos’ad, of the Maspero Youth Union.

Revolutionaries will stand against any attempts to monopolize the future of the country, she said. “We don’t interact with each other based on religion, why do they want to do that?”

Six Copts were elected to the assembly, whereas the Christian community is believed to constitute 8-10 percent of Egypt’s population.
In addition to faith-based lack of representation, protesters made the same complaint when it came to political affiliations, sectors of society and gender. Only six women were elected to the Assembly.

“It isn’t a matter of religion,” said Ghada Naguib, a pregnant woman participating in the march. “If liberals try to monopolize the constitution, we will stand against them as well. All sectors of society should be equally represented.”

Twenty political movements participating in the march demanded an end to the current formation of the Constituent Assembly, which is dominated by the parties controlling the majority in parliament, according to Ahmed Awad of the April 6 Youth Movement.

During the march, members of the April 6 Democratic Front Movement drew graffiti of the military council and MB on the walls of the American Embassy. “Two cannot be trusted, the military and the MB,” it read.

Among the participating movements were the Revolution Youth Union, April 6 Youth Movement, Free Front for Peaceful Change, the Egyptian Democratic Party Youth, Revolutionary Powers Alliance, the Egyptian Communist Party and a number of families of the revolution’s martyrs.

“We called for the march to demand the toppling of this panel and Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration, that bans appeals on the results of the presidential election and to demand the rights of the martyrs,” said Sayed Abdallah, of April 6, Democratic Front.

Mos’ad said that they do not have confidence in the MB. “We won’t wait for them to draft the constitution then hold a referendum on it. They are treating the people as if they have the upper hand and that everyone should accept whatever they say.”

The constitution, Naguib said, is a contract between the people and the authorities to regulate the relationship between them.

“How can they [parliament] dominate drafting this contract and the rest of the 85 million Egyptian are only represented by 50 percent,” she said.

After initial tension, the march was welcomed by the Al-Ahly fans (Ultras) youth who continued their sit-in in front of parliament for the third day to demand swift trials for those involved in the Port Said football massacre and a suspension of sports activities in the country pending retribution for the martyrs.

The Ultras Ahlawy members initially wanted to check all the protesters’ IDs before allowing them into the sit-in area for security reasons. The scuffles that resulted quickly ended as the young Ahly fans cleared the way for the march.



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