Saturday, October 13, 2012

Anniversary of Maspero, and other thoughts

Dear readers

I think we should just commemorate the anniversary of the Maspero massacre on October 9, 2011. It was a very stressful and emotional time in my life, and the life of my colleagues. It really made me pay attention to the discrimination faced by Christians, and Bahai in Egypt. What was particularly eerie about the Maspero Massacre was how the state run press tried to pretend that a) it had not attacked the protesters, and b) the protesters were violent terrorists who had attacked the army.

The Maspero episode also made me worry about the fate of any minority group, Bedouin, Nubian, or women, who want to make a peaceful point in the face of a violent state. This is particularly a matter of concern, because Syria has devolved into a bloody civil war. Egypt's revolution was supposed to lead to a brighter future.

My colleague Abdel Rahman has written a few posts worth reading that I would like to share with you

As my brother Abu says, "Meet the old state, same as the new state." We need to keep our eyes on the prize and hold Morsi accountable. We need to keep fighting to finish this revolution.

Amnesty reports on persistent violence

Maspero Massacre, a Year on from the terrible turning point

The Morsi Maneuver


Thursday, October 11, 2012

First draft of new Egyptian Constitution released

Egypt's Constituent Assembly announced this Wednesday that it has finished the first draft of the new Egyptian Constitution. They released an unfinished draft to the Egyptian public on Wednesday, and encouraged public debate regarding the document. The draft leaves key questions unanswered. No sections address the future role of the military, for example. Egy[t Releases partial draft of new constitution, Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post.

The Constituent Assembly comprises 100 persons. It is generally viewed as being dominated by Islamists. Only 7 women were chosen to take part in the 100 member Constituent Assembly.

Egyptians will have an opportunity to vote yes, or no to the entire constitution. They will not have an opportunity to disapprove individual articles. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place within two months of the national referendum on the new constitution, which is scheduled for the end of the year. Reading the MorsiMeter, Issandr El Amrani, The New York Times.

The current draft divides power between a president, and a prime minister representing a parliamentary majority. The Egyptian Parliament will consist of two chambers, the People's Assembly and the Shura Council.

The draft limits gender equality to the extent that it interferes with "the rulings of the Islamic Sharia," according to the Washington Post. Al Masry Al Youm reports that the wording may pave the way for fresh attacks on women's rights.

Osman El Sharnoubi of Al Ahram writes that Article 9 stipulates citizens' religious freedom. Christians are a small minority in Egypt, and the members of the Bahai faith are not recognized by the Egyptian state, leading to discrimination in the most basic aspects of life. 

The current draft eliminates the role of the state a protector of religious freedoms, limiting religious freedom  in comparison with the 1971 version of the constitution. However, human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif El Islam states that the new constitution appears to guarantee freedom for Abrahamic religions to build places of worship. This would assist Shiite, Jewish and Christian Egyptians in their efforts to build houses of worship, but would do nothing to assist the Bahai, or Buddhists. Egyptian Constitution offers fewer religious freedoms, El Sharnoubi, Al Ahram