Egypt: the fall of a never-happened democracy

Posted on December 26, 2012


The birth of a Constitution recalls, into my mind, the image of thousands of people singing and dancing along the streets and the overwhelming feelings of joy, hope and trust in  politicians supposed to rule the country as best as they can to guarantee protection and well being. And the jubilation is soon spread all over the country and beyond its borders because when a previous Constitution is abolished- as considered wrong- and a new one comes into life, the whole world should celebrate the progress, the process of demolition and rebuilding, the sacrifice of people who have given their lives to change their country (because the creation of a new legislation hardly ever happens without bloodshed).
In Egypt, despite the overthrown of the government, the end of a tremendous dictatorship and the birth of a new Constitution, it seems there is nothing to celebrate and people have returned to protest.
Since the Arab Spring Revolution inflamed Egyptians’ souls in 2011, the power of the group Muslim Brotherhood increased and culminated when one of its members, Mohammed Morsi, won the presidential election in May 2012. It seemed logical and satisfying for Egypt to have, as new leadership, a group who strongly contributed to spread the revolution and to destroy the system of power which had corroded the Egyptian society for decades. When Morsi emerged as new leader for the country, Tahir square was again flooded by thousands of people but this time to celebrate: a new era had just begun.However, this era of changes and improvements was just ephemeral. That Mr. Morsi should not be worshiped as the herald of a time of peace and prosperity was obvious when he issued a decree according to which his power is above any court and if a presidential law violates any human right, no victim can claim against the law. Diabolic.Tremendous.
The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch pointed out the absurdity and the danger of this decree: “Yet now, no one can challenge Morsi’s decrees and laws in court, no matter how bad they are… It [the decree] also appears to give the president the power to issue emergency-style ‘measures’ at any time for vague reasons and without declaring a state of emergency.[…]The provision effectively allows the president to take ‘all necessary measures’, which are not subject to any judicial or legal review, in the name of vague and arbitrary standards of protecting the revolution or ‘national unity.’ The overly broad and vague language of this provision recalls that of article 1 of Law 162, Egypt’s infamous Emergency Law in force for 30 years under Mubarak, which states that ‘a declaration of a state of emergency is permitted whenever a threat to security or public order in the lands of the republic or one of its regions exists.’ ”
Nauseating how politicians can use civilians’ hopes and sufferings to build up new way to destroy them.
The process of monopolizing the country continued with the new legislation. Three days ago the approval of a new Constitution immediately raised malcontent and triggered new protests as the document is considered a betrayal of the revolution and a mere reinforcement of the powers of the Muslim Brotherhood. As the BBC journalist Shaimaa Khalil points out: “The main argument for opposing the constitution is that it was written by an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly. Many here tell you that this constitution was written ‘by the Brotherhood for the Brotherhood’ and not the rest of Egypt.”
Once again, Human Rights Watch expressed its concern for Mr. Morsi’s initiatives: “The draft constitution also contains several articles that are incompatible with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights treaties. […] Human Rights Watch urges the assembly to review the following provisions in light of international human rights law. Torture, Freedom of Religion and Expression, Women’s rights (Human Rights Watch recommends the Constituent Assembly delete the term “rulings of Sharia” to ensure a clear commitment by the state to gender equality in draft article 36), Children’s Rights, Forced Labour, Trafficking, and Slavery.”
The opposition, lead by National Salvation Front coalition, keeps protesting but soon an agreement needs to be reached or the conflict risks to result in victims. Innocent victims.
To conclude: Muslim Brotherhood refuses to recognize the Christian part of the country and denies basic rights to women and children as the principles of Sharia – according to which men can legally marry little girls aged 12 ( this is mere pedophilia) and domestic violence on women is broadly accepted as a way for the husband to take out his frustration – are still the main sources of legislation.  Turning their backs on fundamental human rights and the principles of freedom and equality sought during the Arab Spring Revolution,the new leadership and the new Constitution allow persecutions, executions and maybe genocides and they will all be legal. For Egypt this is not a moment of rejoicing but of mourning, instead.

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