By Justin Dorman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
CAIRO, Egypt – The highly anticipated new constitution which has created so much controversy and has led to innumerable protests and demonstrations is expected to finally be enacted today in Egypt. The constitutional assembly worked around the clock, for approximately seventeen straight hours yesterday, before they unanimously approved the two hundred and thirty-seven items in the draft. After President Mohammed Morsi officially receives and ratifies the draft, he will call for a quick-fire referendum to adopt it.
Morsi will call for the referendum because he does not want the supreme constitutional court to get in the way of the constitution’s adoption. Morsi’s worry is that the supreme constitutional court will try to dissolve the constitutional assembly that had created the draft before it officially becomes law. “There is a rush because you can’t leave the country like this and wait for a politicised verdict from the supreme constitutional court,” said Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Sameh El-Essawia.
Once the referendum is called for, a decision to dissolve the constitutional assembly would have no effect. Furthermore, Morsi will call for the referendum because of his November 22nd decree, which asserts that he is immune from any judicial challenges until a constitution is passed and a parliament is elected. That was another highly controversial move, but the Muslim Brotherhood believes that adopting the constitution now will deflect a lot of negative attention away from that political manuever.
Nevertheless, it does not appear that replacing one controversial decision with another. which is implemented by equally controversial means, will do anything to help cure the clear divide between conservative muslims and any liberal or non-muslim in Egypt. The general criticism against the draft is that it is too focused on utilizing Sharia law and is ambiguous as to women’s and minority rights. Many feel that the draft protects the religion of Islam at the expense of having freedom of expression. Numerous protests have been held in Tahrir Square, including one yesterday, in attempts to criticize Morsi’s regime and stop this constitution from being passed.
As many demonstrations as there were against Morsi and the constitution, there were just as many demonstrations to promote it and Morsi, including one today. Tens of thousands of Islamists met in the streets of Cairo calling for the “implementation of God’s law.”
“The contentious issues have not been resolved, especially regarding the relationship of the state to religion, and that takes us away from the modern civil state,” said University professor Mustafa Kamel El-Sayed.
For further information, please see:
Al Ahram – President Receives Draft Constitution Today and Setting a Date for the Referendum – 1 December 2012
BBC – Egypt Crisis: Islamists Rally for President Morsi – 1 December 2012
Guardian – Morsi Supporters hit the Streets as Egypt Braces for Referendum – 1 December 2012
Jerusalem Post – Islamists Rally for Morsi as Egypt Rift Widens – 1 December 2012