Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Referendum is on the Brotherhood

Doaa El-Bey reviews the continuing criticism of the hastily drafted constitution and its upcoming plebiscite while Gamal Nkrumah looks at Kuwait where chants of the Arab Spring are getting louder

Al-Ahram Weekly

Newspapers and writers joined the public in rejecting the constitutional declaration issued last month together with the quick passing of the constitution and selecting a day for a referendum to vote on it.

In a phenomenon that may not happen in one’s lifetime, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Wafd , Al-Youm Al-Sabei and Al-Watan published a “media on strike” poster on their front page and shared the same headline on Monday: ‘No to dictatorship’. They joined a strike with other newspapers on Tuesday including Al-Tahrir, Al-Shorouk, Al-Ahali, Al-Ahrar, and Al-Osbou.

Independent TV channels Al-Hayat, Dream and CBC were scheduled to go on strike on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s newspaper strike was a controversial issue. Osama Al-Ghazali Harb hailed the Press Syndicate’s decision to support the strike.

The freedom of press and expression, Harb wrote in the official daily Al-Ahram, is one of the basic component of democracy.

“The Egyptians launched the 25 January Revolution to establish a democratic system. Without a shadow of a doubt, the freedom of press and expression was one of its basic aims,” Harb wrote.

The officials daily Al-Akhbar stated a few facts that made its staff decide not to join the strike. First, the newspaper tried to stick to objective coverage of the events during the last few months. As a result, it gained the confidence of readers and that was reflected in an increase in circulation.

Second, the newspaper tried to give all currents and political parties equal coverage “to show our allegiance to the country and the people who are capable of overcoming the difficulties and crises, however complicated they become.”

Third, “the newspaper believes that although the press is the profession that expresses viewpoints, it was never a political party. Thus, the newspaper tries to espouse all the viewpoints and welcome all currents, that which ferociously oppose and that which strongly favour an issue.”

The column which was signed by Al-Akhbar editorial staff concluded by reassuring the reader that their policies would never change and that they would always get the needed support from their readers.

The issue of judicial supervision on the referendum was resolved on Monday when the Supreme Judicial Court agreed to supervise the referendum. Al-Ahram on Tuesday wrote ‘Judges to supervise referendum’. However, Al-Gomhuriya had ‘Last warning’ million-man protest and a march to Al-Ittihadiya palace.

Moataz-Billah Abdel-Fattah wondered how Egyptians would vote in the referendum. He pointed to some basic factors that are likely to affect the vote, first the power of the habit. Those who voted “yes” in the first referendum are likely to vote “yes” in the coming plebiscite.

Second, the effect of the elite. There is a strange phenomenon in Egypt, Abdel-Fattah elaborated. People tend to act in reverse of the elite. If the elite votes “yes” for an issue, people would vote “no” and vice versa.

Third, the influence of the religious institution on the Muslim as well as the Christian. The withdrawal of the church from the Constituent Assembly drawing up the constitution is an indication that Christians should vote “no” whereas the fact that Al-Azhar representatives stayed till the end is a signal for Muslims to vote “yes”.

Fourth, the political scene would affect the outcome of the election. A referendum on the constitution is implicitly a referendum on the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi.

Fifth, rushing the constitution in 17 hours created a feeling of distrust that we do not need at present.

Sixth: the idea of stability is still linked to a yes vote as the consequences of a no vote are still unclear.

However, Abdel-Fattah pointed to the fact that “voting yes or no in the referendum has nothing to do with heaven and hell. And whoever pushes the people to vote “yes” for religious reasons is committing a major mistake against the country,” he wrote in the independent daily Al-Watan.

The writer concluded by confirming that he would not say in public how he will vote until he discusses the matter with experts.

Amid protests in front of Cairo University and Tahrir, Ahmed Al-Sawi searched for a definition for legitimacy. Al-Sawi wrote that in front of Cairo University protesters called for legitimacy. Meanwhile, protesters in Tahrir Square also called for legitimacy. Thus, he questioned what is legitimacy.

Those who go to Cairo University in bus convoys, he explained, think that legitimacy is synonymous with the president. That is, because the president is elected, he has every right to take any decision he likes even if it goes against the law and the constitution.

However, legitimacy, as people in Tahrir define it and as the world knows it, is the legal and constitutional framework according to which the president is elected. Thus he cannot take any decision unless it lies within that framework.

In that token, “President Morsi clearly violated the legitimacy. In addition, he mobilised his groups and supporters to pass a decision that is against the constitution and law,” Al-Sawi wrote in the independent daily Al-Shorouk.

Al-Sawi pointed to a core difference between those protesting in Cairo University and in Tahrir. The former support the president’s decision even before they were issued while the latter support the sovereignty of the state.

The writer questioned in his regular column whether the people should accept the constitution. While Al-Sawi believes that the country is in need of a constitution, it should be respected. If the president does not respect it and in fact violates it by issuing extremely controversial constitutional decrees which give him sweeping powers, then what would stop him from violating the constitution and mobilise his followers to support him?

As a result, Al-Sawi concluded that the battle to cancel the constitutional declaration is a fair one because it would guarantee that Morsi or any other president would respect the constitution.

In the hope of finding a way out of the current crisis, Mohamed Fouda suggested the formation of a committee of wise men. It should be compromised of prominent national characters that are widely accepted among the people. He named few persons that can be selected for that committee.

“We are in a real crisis that our enemies prepared for us. These are external enemies. Revolutions usually have enemies,” Al-Sawi wrote in the independent daily Al-Youm Al-Sabei.

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