As Egyptians lined up to cast their vote on the constitution Saturday, columnists were divided. Although some argued that voting for the constitution would lead to more stability and would grant citizens more state support, the majority considered the constitution and the referendum unsatisfactory.
Do you want to go to heaven?
Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper
Amin strongly opposes the constitutional referendum and asks voters to vote “No”. He notes how the referendum has turned into a religious battle, with Islamists using religious rhetoric to convince voters that the constitution is the only way to achieve stability.
Remembering last year’s constitutional referendum, Amin says that if Egyptians had unanimously voted against the constitution, the country would have been spared the current chaos and would enjoy a proper constitution today.
The columnist denounces the Constituent Assembly and praises the decision of many judges to boycott overseeing the vote.
What relation does Islamic Shari’a have to the constitution? Egyptians are certainly not against Shari’a, but dragging the constitution into religious debates results only in a meaningless mix of religion and politics, Amin believes. While we had a chance to live with the 1971 constitution, political manoeuvres pushed us to parliamentary elections first.
The writer addresses those who plan to boycott the referendum and says their passive attitude will drown Egypt. He encourages them to line up and vote against the constitution.
For these reasons I will vote “Yes”
Mansour states he will vote “Yes” in the referendum. He argues that most of those who plan to vote against the constitution have not even read the document. They are rather influenced by the evening talk shows or views of controversial political figures. Mansour praises the proposed constitution, claiming it grants farmers and the underprivileged better rights. It supports divorced and widowed women and provides the ordinary citizen “all secular rights”.
He asks whether those against the constitution have even read that a detainee could not be held more than 12 hours without charge? Do they know that they must be transferred to prosecution within 24 hours according to the new constitution?
The columnist commends the articles that limit the powers of the president and affords more authorities to the prime minister. According to the new constitution, the president cannot dismiss the PM without the approval of at least a third of parliament. Mansour states that the parliament will enjoy more powers to properly monitor the performance of the government, the president and almost all officials in the country. That’s sufficient for a good constitution to pass, in his view.
The constitution of masters and slaves will not pass without forgery
Nehad Abul Komsan
Abul Komsan is against the constitution. She dissects the document, which includes 236 articles, claiming it includes specific terms that are tailored against certain individuals. Article 176 has been phrased to suspend the female counsellor Tahany Al Gebaly as well as a number of other judges, although she says they have contributed positively to judiciary. Despite the diverse opinions around the constitution, Abul Komsan denounces suggestions to change the wording of article 2 from “principles” to “rules” of Shari’a.
She chides Islamists for producing an article that suggests the “Arabisation” of all subjects taught in Egyptian schools. If you are not rich enough to enrol your children in an international school or university, your child will hardly be able to read an English book or surf the internet.
Abul Komsan believes that the outcome of this constitutional article will be that the coming generation will be taught solely in Arabic, missing out on modern scientific research and methodology. Thanks to this constitution, Egypt will have poorly educated engineers and doctors failing to push their country forward.
She also censures article 10, which allows the state to protect the norms of the families through “protective groups”. This article denotes the application of ultra-conservative Islamist thought and the probable formation of committees for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.
This constitution will return us back to the era of master and slave, she concludes and it will pass through electoral fraud.
The black referendum
The persistence of President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood in proceeding with the constitutional referendum as scheduled reflects their desire to return Egypt to village life. Mansour criticises the constitution and the referendum, believing it will only result in wasting the opportunity afforded by the 25 January revolution. Saturday’s referendum means that Egyptians have merely replaced Mubarak with Morsy.
Mansour expects that the president’s inflexibility in forcing through the constitution will mean many citizens will reject it, even if it passes. The Muslim Brotherhood, in the writer’s opinion, are only concerned with their aspiration to dominate the country.
The absence of judicial supervision means the referendum will be marred by a great deal of fraud. Moreover, the Islamists seem unmindful of the numbers killed or injured in protests, the polarisation of the country, or the frustration of the media and judiciary.
The focus on passing the constitution means a total disregard of the demands of the opposition. A constitution produced from an illegitimate Constituent Assembly is invalid and unacceptable. It is a black referendum added to the black history of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mansour says.
“No” to the constitution
Al- Masry Al- Youm newspaper
Saturday was the day when the Muslim Brotherhood drove Egyptians to blindly vote for the constitution, Salmawi says. It is a constitution that should be unacceptable to all. It will turn Egypt’s political identity to an Islamist emirate owned by the Muslim Brotherhood. Salmawi believes the constitution is a project through which the Islamists will punish those who disobey the group’s instructions. The writer encourages all his readers to stand against the constitution.
He argues that the integrity of the referendum is marred by the absence of judicial monitoring, the split of the vote over two days and the fact it document being voted on was produced by an unrepresentative Constituent Assembly.
Unlike those that call for a “Yes” vote for stability, the author believes that voting against the constitution will open the door for a more stable future. A new Constituent Assembly would be formed and a well-written constitution could be produced.
The writer reminds Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood voted for the March 2011 referendum only to support the decision to cancel its constitution. These contradictions suggest Egyptians should not be blindly driven by such a group, he says.