Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Why the constitution?

What a hard-fought, drawn-out, brutal battle that was! For three long years, since 25 January 2011, the people of Egypt have engaged in a virtual war against the Monstrous Brotherhood from within and against the rest of the world from without. Taking their destiny in their hands, the people of Egypt have now declared victory.

It came upon us slowly, stealthily, silently. Basking in a state of euphoria after ousting a despotic ruler, we found ourselves in the throes of a ruthless, extremist terrorist rule, which gloried in the sight of blood, looting and burning churches, badgering and killing Muslims in the name of a religion that forbids the taking of human life.

Within six months, revolted by this inhuman conduct, the people of Egypt took to the streets, filling bridges, squares and parks in every city and town and village, crying “foul”.

Out of nowhere appeared a man of the people, brimming with humility, compassion and courage, with a voice as soothing and caressing as the gentle rains from heaven, alleviating every pain, healing every wound, wiping every tear. Backed by the army, General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi stood behind the citizens. The tyrant Morsi was removed from office, incarcerated with his cronies.

We are a people of religious spirit and strong convictions, and no one is to tell us differently.

We swam through a sea of deception and corruption and found the shore.

We walked through a dark and endless tunnel and found the light.

We flung the rubbish overboard and restored chaos into harmony.

We have defied the Western powers, bent on forcing the MB down our throats. We scratched their agenda and dashed their dreams.

Three years of our lives and our history have been lost. Now we must start anew, in search of our democracy.

Once again, we start from the beginning, armed with a new constitution to ensure that no other form of government will suppress, smother or squash us.

Why the constitution?

Order and a sense of safety and security are innate in human nature. Even in the early days a leader, chief or high-priest was selected to protect and safeguard the group. Every country needs a constitution, a charter, a set of principles, a body of rules which regulate the conduct through which governmental power is exercised. It is a sort of guide to the government to maintain discipline, to serve the people and do their bidding.

Government belongs to the people. The constitution must be obeyed by both people and government.

Egypt is well familial with constitutional law going as far back as 1923. This fine constitution would have been retained were it not for the different rulers who would re-write constitutions to fit their needs and desires. With the removal of the monarchy in 1952, a new constitution was drafted in 1956, followed by several changes, custom-made for each new ruler.

The catastrophe occurred in 2012 when the new MB government established a reprehensible constitution that robbed the people of their rights, transferring all the power to the governing body. That is when the alarm bells started ringing, warning the people of Egypt that this was not the democratic rule they sought.

It has been said that the American constitution of 1787 is the best written social and political document in history. Fresh out of the yoke of British colonialism, the American Framers of the Constitution produced a brilliant philosophic, judicial charter that limits the power of the various organs of the government, affording the citizens human and legal rights as never before. It is hailed for its simplicity, brevity and precision of its language.

The French constitution of 1875 contains no provisions regarding the method of elections, the term of office and totally ignored the power of the judiciary.

Another constitution praised by experts is the constitution of India. Far too long and bulky, containing 444, articles it is nonetheless a remarkable specimen of excellence.

While most countries have written constitutions, Britain, New Zealand and Israel are the only three countries without a written constitution. The English Magna Carta of 1215 has been the basis of British rule as well as several other constitutions including that of the US, which in some instances has copied it word for word.

We have a constitution! After weeks and weeks of toil and trouble, a 50-member assembly headed by Amr Moussa, the former Arab League chief, has produced the finest constitution Egypt has ever known. In fact it is favourably compared with the world’s leading constitutions. Most important in our new constitution is the undisputed equal rights of Christians, the most ancient of citizens alive today.

We have stood by for decades while the governing powers have seized our rights as citizens and human beings. But we had a rendez-vous with destiny. We are survivors. While others have faded and disappeared from history, we the people of Egypt are still here, overcoming every obstacle, enduring every hardship. We have survived the autocratic rule of Hosni Mubarak, followed by the bloody, heavy-handed MB. We have survived even without the US military aid and are deeply grateful to Obama for teaching us our worth. We shall overcome peril and sorrow, and yes, we shall never surrender.

We have changed our destiny. We have altered history.

We have dug the foundation and laid the cornerstone for our future.

The future is near, shining bright, burning with excitement, glowing with hope.


“Government without constitution is power without right”. Thomas Paine (1787-1809)

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