Planned modifications to the Egyptian Constitution will, it has been claimed, lead to the "return of the Mubarak regime". The claim has been made by the Pro-Democracy Alliance which has sprung up in the wake of the military coup which ousted democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi. The existing Constitution was backed by 64 per cent of the electorate in a referendum last year.
"The people rebelled against the Mubarak regime in search of bread, freedom, social justice and dignity," said a statement from the alliance, "so why would they support such modifications?" It has appointed a special committee to examine contentious changes to the document.
The most significant of these changes, argues the alliance, is a clause which would place Egypt's military establishment above the Constitution. The Minister of Defence, for example, would then be chosen by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and not the prime minister, "in complete contradiction to the notion of a civilian government". A similar situation will arise with the judiciary, it is alleged, isolating it from the government and Constitution. Any notion of an independent judiciary will be lost, with the General Prosecutor subject to appointment by the state president. Laws governing the judicial process will be subject to approval by a two-thirds majority, something not applicable in any other country.
According the Pro-Democracy Alliance, the modifications are an attempt to turn the clock back by changing 32 articles of the Constitution. "This will end the role of the state in protecting the values and characteristics of Egyptian society, which the coup wants to turn into a chaotic society with no principles or morals." The changes are also, it says, a direct challenge to the religious nature of the Egyptian people by the deletion of the article which criminalises insults against the Prophets. "Article 219's deletion will open the door to all sorts of cults proliferating in the name of Islam."
By planning to take Egypt backwards, argues the alliance, the coup government is waging a war against the identity of the state and the people. "The January 25 Revolution was intended to create a modern, democratic state," said the alliance statement, "and this should be founded on justice and equality."
The Pro-Democracy Alliance appealed to all honourable citizens not to allow this "farce" to continue as it will distort the Constitution for the benefit of the secularists in society who have backed the military overthrow of democracy in Egypt. "The secular trend was rejected by the people in five free and fair votes after the revolution," it pointed out.
The Alliance also called upon all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, to thwart the coup by continuing to resist by all possible peaceful means every effort to distort their identity and destroy their values and morals.