Saturday, February 19, 2011

Regarding the Constitutional Amendments “Myth And Reality”

Since army’s constitutional announcement or declaration or whatever you can call it and there is a huge debate about the constitution amendments and the constitutional amendments committee.

First of all the army made it clear that the armed forces council will rule only for 6 months. Today the council made it crystal that there will not be “an army” presidential candidate insh Allah in the coming presidential elections. The armed forces council has been insisting in all its communiqués so far that its aim is to have a civil elected state.

Second God created the world in 7 days , you do not expect all the changes we want to happen just in one week or in 6 months. Already I am from the people who believe that 6 months as a transitional period is very short considering that we are not changing only a 30 years regime but rather 58 years mindset.

Third we are not changing the whole constitution now , we are not having a new constitution now , we are only changing the 6 articles about the parliamentary and presidential elections.

Logically you can’t change the constitution as far as I know in this transitional period , you can’t have a complete new constitution without a parliament and civil president. In 10 days or even less the constitutional amendments committee formed by armed forces council from constitutional experts in Egypt should fix these articles.

The articles the committee is going to amend for the current time are articles : 76 ,77 , 88 ,93, 189 and to delete article no.179

Article No.76 : is infamous presidential candidacy article in the constitution which is believed to the longest constitutional article in the world.

Article No.77 : Related to the presidential terms , it was for here to eternity during the Mubarak era , hopefully insh Allah it will be only 2 terms. We do not know if it will continue to be 6 years or 4 years. This can be debated later.

Article No.88 : Related to the judiciary supervision in the presidential and parliamentary elections , we want a complete judiciary supervision in both elections. The committee will restore it.

Article No.93 : Related to the court of cassation’s orders to the parliament. We all know that the parliament in time of Mubarak used to ignore all the court’s orders that nullified most of the NDP seats in almost all the parliamentary elections especially the last 3 elections.

Article No.189 : Related to the constitutional amendments process itself

These are the articles that will be amended insh Allah. Not only these experts will change but also the laws based on them like the elections laws and political rights law. If it were only a matter of 5 articles in the constitution to be changed then it would not take this time.  Changing these articles will enable us to be on the right track for a real democratic life in Egypt

Article No.179 : related to counter terrorism law that gives the police the right to arrest the people without a warrant. This article is to be deleted as far as I know and read.

Fourth the former president Mubarak’s regime remains are trying to spilt the society by spread rumors about article no. 2. The article no.2 is not among the articles currently amended at all now. Speaking about this article now makes believe in the anti-revolution scenario that the Mubarak regime’s remains trying to implement. Already the first person I found him speaking about this article with Naguib Gabriel who was totally against the #Jan25 protests and the Wrath Friday if you remember. I consider Gabriel from the old regime’s era should leave us alone. The old regime is trying to use the sectarian game again.  When the time comes to speak about article no.2 I hope we will be less sectarian and more mature after 6 months or even more.

Fifth I do not know why there is unneeded debate about the armed forces council’s choice to thinker and judge Tarek El-Bishry , Tarek El-Bishry is from the few men in this country that we can consider as real thinkers when it comes to the term “Thinker”. I do not need to speak about his background or history but let’s just say I trust him more than I do trust Yahia El-Gamal with my all due respect and admiration to Yahia El-Gamal. I trust El-Bishry because he understands and respect the Liberal experience in Egypt and he really wants a better democratic future for this county. Choosing El-Bishry was a very smart move because the man was a well known critic to Mubarak’s regime.

By the way El-Bishry said in an interview with Lamis El-Hadidy that he is leaning towards the Parliamentary state when she asked him about the kind of state he preferred for Egypt in the coming period.

Sixth here is the full list of the constitutional committee’s members :

  • Tarek El-Bishry
  • Dr. Atef El-Banaa : Professor of constitutional law , Cairo university , law school
  • Hussanein Abdel Aal : Professor of constitutional law , Cairo university , member of the national human rights council and was chosen as a member in previous constitutional amendments committee formed by Omar Soliman.
  • Dr. Mohamed Bahi Yonus : Professor of constitutional law, Alexandria university
  • Judge Maher Sami Youssef : Deputy of the supreme constitutional court head , a Christian judge
  • Judge Hassan El-Badrawy : Deputy of the supreme constitutional court head and minister of justice’s aide for the parliamentary affairs.
  • Judge Hatem Bagato : The head of the commissioners’ committee at constitutional court “I hope that I translated it correctly”. He is considered from the fathers of Criminalizing FGM law in Egypt and he is the man who nullified the law no.100 to regulate the unions and syndications in Egypt in one of the biggest slaps to the regime before the revolution. Bagato is the sectary of this committee.
  • Lawyer Sobhi Saleh : Former member of parliament from 2005 to 2010. He is from the Muslim brotherhood. An active member in the bar association and he lost in the last election in front of Abdel Salem Maghoub.

Now there is a panic over the choice of Saleh because of his membership to the Muslim brotherhood. First of all I will assume that these names were approved by the army council , thus there should be no fear from any devilish plan by the MB. Second of Sobhi Saleh is just one member from the committee. Third why all the focus is on Sobhi and we are not paying attention to Bagato and other members who got very interesting and positive opinions about women’s rights !!? As I hinted Bagato was from those who put the FGM law in Egypt !!?

Seventh What is this crappy talk about the exclusion of women in this committee ? As you have seen above these articles have nothing to do with the women’s position in the society and gender equality to the rest of these jazz. This is a temporarily committee in a urgent circumstance as you can see.

I believe the fear of El-Bishry , Sobhi Saleh and also this talk about the exclusion of  women in this committee is another evidence of the counter revolution Gamal Mubarak and his orphans in the media try to spread worldwide.


  1. There is - from my point of view - one remarkable problem. Why Article 5 should not be amended immediately? This article makes it impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood to establish an own party. I don't like the MB much but without giving them the right to participate in the formal political process you will not see a real political progress in Egypt!

  2. Such an educated opinion.
    لا فض فوك.

  3. Constitution on my opinion should be made to support free, fair and representative elections. If those changes will do it. It can be rewritten later on if people wants it.

    MB fear-mongering is directed towards western media. I don't see why Egyptians would not see through that fear-mongering by filtering that out.

    I'm worried more of the rampant GID, that is now headed by Murad Muwafi but may still be more loyal to Omar Suleiman who was effectively "kicked out".

    There are definitely people close to GID that were bribed which now try to keep the pieces of regime in place.

  4. Sounds like the army did a great job.
    لازم نقدر كلنا ان اهم حاجة هو ان الجيش
    يجهز البلد و الدستور علشان
    يجي برلمان حقيقي
    و البرلمان ده هو اللي مطلوب منه تشكيل حكومة و مراقبتها
    ديه هي السكة الحقيقية للإصلاح

    اي مطالب دلوقتي لرفع المرتبات
    و تخفيض الأسعار و و و
    تعتبر تعجيز للجيش و تضييع لهدف الثورة
    وهو تغير النظام

    الثورة تجاوزت كل المطالب الحياتية اليومية المشروعة
    إلي اساس المشكلة وهي فساد النظام
    لازم كلنا نساعد الجيش انه يجيب برلمان حقيقي في اسرع وقت

  5. It sounds like things are going in a good direction and no need for panic.

    But when you say "What is this crappy talk about the exclusion of women in this committee ? As you have seen above these articles have nothing to do with the women’s position in the society and gender equality to the rest of these jazz" then you make the assumption that women can only be involved in discussions about women's issues. Why should a woman not also have an opinion about the constitution as a whole not just the parts that directly effect women? You marginalise women if you say they should only be involved when women's issues are being discussed.

  6. I believe that in 1923 there were 3 constitutions that were considered the cream of the democratic crop, and the templates for a Parliamentary democracy. Guess what? EGYPT - USA and France! Why not use the 1923 Egypt Constitution as the template for our new Multi-Party, Pluralistic, Parliamentary Democracy?

  7. totally agree with anonymous. many people will be watching to see whether masculinism and male privilege continue as egypt rebuilds itself. we simply can't afford to go down that same path.

    otherwise, thanks for this post and for reminding readers of the long-term POV. completely agree that interim period MUST be extended. six month is not long enough for credible opposition to organize. why don't the April 6 mvmnt organizers create a party though which to voice this demand?

  8. Two principal points to consider:
    1. The fulfillment of army pledge to remain on the helm for 6 months only is dependent on the facts on the ground 6 months from now. It may well be possible coming August to stretch the 6 mon if the replacement is not ready to take over.
    2. Does the term 'army's candidate' also mean 'x-army candidate'? A retired or resigned officer in civilian dress may or may not be considered an army candidate. This need to be made crystal clear.

    The best safeguard to this period is to reinforce the military council with civilian top-level participation. A multi-person presidential committee can guide this delicate phase to amend the constitution and prepare a phasing out of military rule. There are many candid civilians who are willing to sacrifice their presidential ambitions, join the military council, in order to guide Egypt in this delicate period.

  9. I don't think there is lots of reasons to trust the army board.

    I saw myself the army blockades on tuesday before the bloody wednesday and these must have been lifted by the army as many news agencies reported to facilitate the bloody attack on wednesday.
    Many have reported from army officeres that they have been authorized to open fire on the protesters prior to mubarak leave declaration.

    the pressure from middel ranks in the army was huge to support the revolution.

    of course this talk should not be public by the ppl since the army is only remaining gurantee for the country and if ppl lost faith in the army then may good help us all.

    the talk now about the counter revolution is to me very justified. the US is more interested in having a supporting regime than on having a real democracy

    two scenarios

    either the army still not in full control over the country. that's why still Amen el dawla exists with the same figures and powers also this is why pro mubarak ministers are still in power,many are still imprisoned.

    or the the army board is part of the big plan to counter revolt this and secure another corrupt elections !
    I may be using black glasses to look at things !! and i hope I'm wrong.

  10. @Anonymous "Why should a woman not also have an opinion about the constitution as a whole not just the parts that directly effect women?"

    Get back in the kitchen.

  11. Firstly, I have just discovered your blog and am full of admiration for what you, and those like you, have been doing. Now is the time to rebuild a political constituency of debate on which a future democracy will depend. Your blog is such an important part of that struggle.

    Secondly, I feel uneasy about the exclusion of women in the committee and I just can’t bring myself to see objections to this as ‘crappy talk... and all that jazz’. I can’t help but agree whole-heartedly with the following comment and would really appreciate it if you could address this on your blog:

    ‘ make the assumption that women can only be involved in discussions about women's issues. Why should a woman not also have an opinion about the constitution as a whole not just the parts that directly affect women? You marginalise women if you say they should only be involved when women's issues are being discussed.’

    Surely, at this juncture, and after such an important victory, we should have a committee that represents Egyptians as best as is possible. Is it really the case (as my boyfriend just suggested) that there are no women with the qualifications or experience to be involved? Is it not essential that women are involved in decision making processes? I know that the committee is temporary and the circumstances are urgent, but surely now is the time to start challenging this patriarchal system. Would it really have been impossible to include women in the committee?
    I really would appreciate answers to my questions.

  12. 'Exclusion of women' is a divisive tactic to create a wedge, and many more will come to distract and divide.

    This committee is made of constitutional scholars, judges, and specific legal professionals. A field vey much dominated by men which will take some time to change. To select a female to represent women, while is not on the same par as these men, is a disservice to women and the country. Take example of classic music; do you resent classic music due to lack of female composers? It just happened to be this way, and there are better sopranos and more talented ballerinas.

    If you have a name of female jurist, who is rightly qualified based on her knowledge and not her sex, then this is the answer. She can sit down in the committee as equal. This is the only accepted ground for objection,

    After all, Mubark did appoint female ministers to appease women, and what did you get from them? A female mister bent in public to kiss the hand of Susan Mubark.

    Sex is not a credential. Focus on the issues and remain united. Divisiveness is the best weapon for counter revolution.

  13. I appreciate the response to my concerns about the exclusion of women in the committee. You make an important point which I agree with; it would be ludicrous to admit women into the committee who cannot sit as equals with their male counterparts. That kind of positive discrimination would be counter-productive.

    My worry, however, is this: what is it about Egyptian society that has allowed this to be the case? The wider concern is with a deep rooted misogyny which exists in Egyptian Society and must, if we really are embracing the ideals of social justice for all, be at the top of the to-do list.

    I guess this gender issue highlights my greater fear of misrepresentation. It seems to me that there is a real danger that this revolution will be stolen from the people - men and women, from all walks of life, who were unified in their fight for democracy and freedom.

    To shut down debate by screaming that divisive tactics are being employed to divide and separate people is actually counter revolutionary. To accept what the military have done in the name of stability is counter-revolutionary. To have genuine democracy is to have a plurality of ideas and an on-going debate. To demand that everyone remains united is clearly neither possible, nor wise.

    That is precisely why there should be a diverse group of well-respected Egyptians: journalists, lawyers, bloggers, novelists, judges, analysts, academics etc. men and women, young and old, Muslim, Christian and secular working to write a new constitution which will protect the one thing the revolutionaries were united in – a democratic and tolerant society which respects human rights.

    As things stand, the changes to the constitution will be made and elections will take place. They will take place before more than a couple of political groups are organised enough to share their ideas and manifestos with the constituency. And then the newly elected parliament will write a constitution which reflects its ideology. Square one.

    So was this revolution about minor concessions which could lead to another equally oppressive regime rather than genuine change? For radical change is what is needed.

    Anyone who has not read George Orwell’s cautionary tale ‘Animal Farm’ – now is the time to do so.

    The NAC seems to offer a better alternative to what we have now:

  14. ElBaradei has gone a new Tweet rage:

    ElBaradei: "Efforts 2 patchwork defunct constitution is step in wrong direction. A provisional const. followed by drafting a new const. is way forward"

    ElBaradei: "Regime has not changed as long as its media mouthpieces R still in place desperatley trying to change colour & undermine revolution"

    I think Egyptians are getting screwed here, ElBaradei and NAC is founded on the changing. Why it is not invited to talks? This is a serious issue!

  15. Hey Jason! I would love to get back in the kitchen and cook a big bowl of delicious koshery for you – with lashings of tomato sauce, a good sprinkling of golden fried onions and just a pinch of arsenic. ;)

  16. Anon 6:02 pm missed my point expressed in Anon 7:21 am.

    Amending the constitution requires constitutional scholars, apart form any gender, and doesn't provide on the job training. To be aware, smart and opinionated about current articles of constitution is just not enough. Eliminating gender inequality in this case by a revolutionary choice or a decree is superficial.

    Expertise and professional experience is naturally based on a bell curve. If more women choose the field of constitutional law, some of them will excel and by time become experts. You can start changing the trend today, yet the outcome will be later. Female experts in any field are cultivated and not anointed.

    Having said that about 'females' amending constitution, it is quite different while talking about national aspirations. I find Asma Mahfouz, Nawara Negm and many others to be a good representative voice for Jan25 revolution.

  17. ;) كشرى, Google images. I have never had koshery but it looks good.

  18. The constitution doesn’t need to be amended – it needs to be re-written before elections. Experts should deal with the technical and legal side of actually writing it to ensure things are phrased in the correct way etc, but they should have a committee of people (writers, activists, journalists, representatives from various opposition movements and groups etc.) debating and voting on issues and having their voices heard. Even the experts in this country have never written a whole new constitution before so there is the issue that everyone will be learning on the job to an extent.

    Hundreds of people didn’t die for what seems to be happening now. I can’t believe people are just accepting this. Again, the best way to move forward seems to me to be what the NAC have put forward:

    I am very interested in other people’s opinions.


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