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Boycott the undemocratic, discriminatory constitution

January 27, 2014 at 10:44 am

The prelude to the constitution drafted by the 50-member committee states that Egypt is the head of Africa. Yet, the African Union suspended Egypt’s membership because of the coup in July. While the document also claims that Egypt is an Arab country that endeavours to achieve Arab integration, our closest Arab brothers and sisters are being humiliated across Egypt, accused of all sorts of unspecified crimes. Media reports and human rights organisations confirm the systematic oppression of more than 300,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt, let alone what the poor Palestinians are being subjected to inside Egypt and at the Rafah crossing.

Some of the members of the 50-member committee claim that the constitution is a miracle and that there is nothing like it when it comes to liberties, even though, astonishingly, it subjects civilians to military courts. They also claim that the document is democratic, but it accords the minister of defence the privilege of being “appointed not elected” and almost god-like status.

This in fact is the essence of this constitution, which turns the overwhelming majority of Egyptians into serfs working for the true owners of the country, the military.

Some might say that I am exaggerating. Not at all; the article pertaining to the defence minister, for example, is unique among democracies. It will remain as a testament to how humans are capable of acting in the most despicable manner. It will be something that we shall teach our sons and daughters one day to illustrate to them how despotic this regime was until we brought it down.

However, I shall not focus on one specific article. The matter is far graver than just a cluster of articles. It is an undemocratic and discriminatory constitution that reinforces the positions of those appointed and weakens those elected. None of those elected to public office by the people will dare to come close to the military institution, whether politically, economically or any other way. The same is true of the judiciary. There are no articles that prohibit discrimination against you should you wish to join any of these institutions or, for that matter, any government institutions such as the police or the foreign service. It is the constitution of the masters versus the slaves.

The people behind it say that we see the cup half-empty rather than half-full. I did try to see it their way but found nothing there except poison.

They tell us that these are the necessities of the time but I have not been able to find an end to this period of time which has now exceeded sixty years. They just want it to continue forever.

They will tell you that we are fighting a war against terrorism. By Allah, I have found no terrorist bigger than the security agencies which burn citizens alive in front of the prison gates after having detained them.

No matter what they say, I say to them that a constitution during whose drafting thousands of citizens are murdered by the state does not represent me. A constitution that is put to the vote while thousands of detainees are still behind bars does not deserve my vote. A constitution that is drafted in secret sessions without any public discussion about it will never be granted false legitimacy by me.

This is the constitution of the 50-member committee. I call on every single one of them and on every single person related to the regime to show us yourselves; show us “your people” whom you claim to be a part of Egyptian society. Show us the 22 million who signed the Tamarod petition. Show us the 33 million, or the 44 million, who took to the streets and public squares to pay homage to the coup and to support state murder.

Should this constitution fail to win the approval of thirty million people then it would be clear that everything said before about such numbers was nothing but lies.

We have had two referendums over the past three years. In both cases 18 million Egyptians voted. Consequently, if the supporters of the constitution manage less than this it would be as if we demolished a 10-storey building to replace it with a smaller structure. And all of this is merely to alter some details of the façade. In doing so we would have squandered lives, money and time and we would have precipitated so much hatred amongst the people and split society in such a way that many years will be needed to repair it.

We have destroyed a genuine democratic path that led to a constitution and an election in which millions of people took part. I say to the 50-member committee and the coup officials show us what you have given us today. Have we really replaced what we had with something which is better?

It would seem that rigging the vote will be their only solution. Those of us who are still free should boycott the vote in any case; we should not give legitimacy to murderers.

This, after lengthy consideration, is my opinion. Long live democratic Egypt for the Egyptians and with the Egyptians!

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.