I heard those who produced the draft of the new constitution describe it as the best constitution Egypt has ever known. They claim that it excels the previous ten constitutions witnessed by Egypt, from the Rules of Muhammad Ali in 1837 to the Constitution of 1971.
These are fine words and in order to believe them I want those who came out with this new draft constitution to explain it article by article. I want to know what new ideas this draft Constitution offers for the achievement of justice, citizens' rights and duties, powers of the ruler as far as government, parliament and the judiciary are concerned. I want to know what the new draft constitution is proposing for the implementation of Sharia. It is as if in all the past centuries we did not apply Sharia and we were not true Muslims. It is as if we were all waiting for the advent of this new constitution to teach us Sharia; as if we were waiting to learn the ABCs of Sharia in order to graduate as Muslims and repent the guilt of our fathers and forefathers whose Islam is doubted. I want to know what this draft constitution says about our economic problems and education. Whenever anyone asks me about the potential for the future, my answer is that there is nothing optimistic because of the decline in the level of education. While countries all around us are working hard to advance their education, we are taking backward steps to the degree that today we have university graduates who are practically illiterate—unable to read or write. I would like to know the role of culture in this draft constitution. Among the major defects of the overthrown president’s regime is that it was an enemy of culture and considered it a luxury for which there was no room amidst the myriad pressing problems and concerns. In fact, there is no solution for the problems that surround us—the traffic, sexual harassment, moral decline, progress, etc.—except through culture. And in spite of that, the draft constitution offers us nothing in the realm of culture. I fear that these matters may be interpreted according to the method of the overthrown regime, and hence we will witness more decline under the new regime.
I read with interest the text of Article 9 of the draft constitution, which says: the state is committed to providing security, reassurance and equal opportunities for all citizens. The word “reassurance” which the state is committed to provide struck me. This the first time this word appears in any constitution. I claim my right to feel reassured towards this constitution. Please reassure us!
This article was previously published in Al Ahram