Hamdi Hassan's Forum

The Egyptian Revolution: A Carnival of Rage and Comic Defiance!

An examination of the demise of the Mubarak regime through the eyes of Egyptians, whose lives were, until now and, ironically, still in many ways, defined by it, is a helpful tool to understand the current situation of people revolting in the name of “bread, freedom and social justice.”

 When the youth protesters first took to Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 25 2011, they chanted their desire, among other things, for a state that promised social justice, unity, and equal rights for all. Even though they committed violent acts at times, most of these youngsters were longing for a new and democratic Egypt it seemed. They strongly believed that what was experienced in Tahrir at the outset of the Revolution would materialize in real social and political life.

 Recently however, the opposition group the National Salvation Front (NSF) called for a protest against the Islamist government to “continue the Revolution” and reiterate "demands" for the dismissal of the current government, the amendment of the recently-approved constitution and the appointment of a new prosecutor-general.

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Egypt is the historic cultural and political leader of the Arab world. Not only has it been integral in its diplomatic relations with the Middle East and Northern Africa, it played a major role in its relations with major world powers. Egypt serves as the gateway between Africa and the Middle East. The current political impasse is reflected not only on deteriorating economic conditions in the country but also this internal political crisis could have dire regional consequences. The economic crisis and the need to uphold Egypt’s regional role will be discussed later. Let us now discuss the internal political landscape.

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Egypt's beleaguered Constituent Assembly (CA) moves closer to completing the long-awaited draft constitution. The 100-strong panel, which was picked in June, is headed by senior judge Hossam el-Gheriany. Its constitutionality is currently being examined by a court. The CA has been harshly criticized for its large proportion of Islamist-leaning members and for its exclusion of Copts, women, Nubians, Bedouins and other minorities. They accuse the CA of throwing away the economic and social rights of Egyptians. Last June, a number of liberal members and representatives of non-religious parties initiated a mass walkout to protest what they saw as the assembly's unrepresentative character. Their stated reason for resigning from the assembly was to allow greater representation for women, young people and Coptic Christians, while also registering their objection to perceived "Islamist monopolization" of the constitution-writing committee.

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Democracy is not about merely winning elections. It is about creating commonalities of inclusion for all other political forces in the country. The country is deeply divided, brutally bruised as well as saddened and confused. For the time being, it seems that the political crisis in Egypt has reached a point of no return. The political impasse can have very serious repercussions. President Morsi decided to proceed to challenge his opponents through forcing a referendum on the new constitution. The Islamists’ opponents responded to step up the action on the streets, and ultimately marched to stage civil protest around the presidential palace.

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Wide Rejection of the Constitutional Draft in Egypt

By Hamdi Hassan

The Constitutional Assembly had a landmark opportunity to lay the groundwork for representing human rights in tomorrow’s Egypt, but its current draft fails to meet that standard because of vague language or limitations that destroy the essence of many rights. The “draft of the new constitution” has also deepened the conflict between the Islamists and the varieties of Liberal and Leftist forces in the country. The political landscape is as polarized as ever: we have the Islamists who are accused of not being able rule a country that needs to pass a difficult and messy transitional phase. We have also the Liberals and Leftist groups who are accused of lacking the ability to organize and therefore the capacity to rule.
At first sight one observes that the text lacks the legal precision and the rigor that entails of a constitution, given the fact that constitutional language is fundamentally different from legal, political or, for that matter, any ordinary language.

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Reflections on the Referendum on the Draft of the New Constitution

Egypt's fiercely disputed draft constitution is certain to pass after unofficial results from the second and final round of referendum voting show that around 64 percent of Egyptians voted in its favour. However, the voter turnout is as low as 30 percent and official results are not expected until Monday.

 During this final phase of Egypt’s constitutional referendum, 25,495,237 voters were eligible to take part in the polls. The voting took place in 176 general polling stations and 6,274 sub-stations in 17 governorates. It was a relatively humdrum day with fewer incidents of violence but much more systemic irregularities.

The Supreme Electoral Commission extended the voting hours from 7pm to 11pm due to "high voter turnout.” However, the turnout in the second phase is not expected to exceed the 32 percent witnessed in the first phase. In fact, it is reported that it is only 30 percent, due to the irregularities and discouragement of voters in areas where Islamists have little support, especially in the Delta.

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