ATbar The Struggle on Egypt's New Constitution

The Struggle on Egypt's New Constitution

05/09/2013 | by Fighel, Jonathan (Col. Ret.)  

The rise of the “Muslim Brotherhood” to power in Egypt in the January 25th 2013 revolution in free and democratic elections, and the discussions surrounding a new constitution approved in a referendum in December 2012, were among the most difficult and dangerous issues in the dispute which eventually led to the counterrevolution, and the ousting of Morsi from the presidency by the liberal movement led by the Egyptian army.

Upon his rise to power, Morsi promised to act as everyone’s president, but in practice many of his moves showed that he had an Islamist sectorial outlook and intended to change the prevailing order in Egypt to a “Sharia” state. Jobs in the ruling elite were awarded to individuals affiliated with the Islamic movement and the constitution was formulated by a controversial committee, and with the President’s intervention it threatened to promote a fanatic Islamist and anti-democratic agenda in Egypt.

A survey conducted by the Gallup Institute in April 2011 in Egypt found that 69% of the 1000 respondents across Egypt wanted religious leaders to have only an advisory role in the new administration, and most did not wish for the establishment of a government based on the principles of religion and theocratic regime. Only 15% of respondents said that they supported the “Muslim Brotherhood”, while 60% said they had no political preference.

After the draft of the constitution was approved in the referenda held on December 15th and 22nd 2012, it became apparent that there was a deep rift in Egypt.

President Morsi’s opponents, a group comprised of leftists, liberals, secularists and Christians took to the streets to prevent the enforcement of the constitution, dangerously mixing politics with religion. The constitution prepared by President Mohamed Morsi’s allies (those advocating the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood) received support from 63.8% of citizens, meaning that the Islamists won their third consecutive victory at the polls since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 revolution. The final voting turnout was 32.9%.

After approval of the constitution, the opposing voices grew and the claim that the President was acting for the Islamization of the Egyptian state and that his plans for the rehabilitation of the state of security and economy had failed miserably, took root in the public discourse. In addition, his steps were perceived to be anti-democratic and were construed as him turning his back on the original goals of the revolution.

As an inevitable step to stop the erosion and prevent Egypt from moving quickly down a slippery theocratic Islamist fanatic slope, the army had to lead a dramatic counter-move and intervene in the political-civilian process and make a course correction towards the original goals of the revolution which led to the ousting of President Morsi's rule. The counter-revolution was probably inevitable and sealed the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood and of President Morsi, from whom the reins of government were taken and was placed in custody.

A joint civilian-military leadership with a Western liberal orientation is seeking to maintain Egypt’s Muslim identity without abandoning Western values and collaborating with it. This leadership has claimed responsibility for managing the country’s affairs and released a plan for extracting the country from the crisis. According to them, within a few months the constitution will be amended, elections for parliament and the presidency will be held, and power will be transferred to the elected civilian leadership.

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