Saturday, 10 November 2012

Egypt's Ten-Year Constitution?

(Note: Yes, I am writing a blogpost, finally. Been too focused on 2000-words op-eds as of late._


Moataz Abdel-Fattah In Class

It's no secret that Egypt's draft constitution process is in a gridlock right now, between Salafists who want more express references and influences to and by Shari'a, and liberals (or liberal-leaning members) who are threatening to exit en masse (30 of them) from the constituent assembly, potentially bringing the assembly down due to an insufficient number of members. One idea that has been circulating as of late is a proposal by political science professor and post-revolution government advisor Dr. Moataz-Bellah Abdel-Fattah. For those who don't know him, Abdel-Fattah became under the limelight following the revolution, writing on democratic transitions and as well as on a progressive approach to the relationship between Islam and the State.

In a recent Op-Ed In Shorouk, Abdel-Fattah floats the idea of a temporary ten year constitution that - more or less - would include largely only what all forces agree on. After ten years, a new one would be drafted or this one would be extended. Abdel-Fattah then goes on to discuss long-duration and problem-filled constitution-drafting experiences from around the world that would supposedly support his argument.

While some criticised Abdel-Fattah for potentially "confusing" and derailing the constitution-drafting process with such ideas, other see the idea itself as useful as a potential way to move the country forward and focus on actual national reconstruction for a while until we sort some of our constitutional stumbling blocks over a comfortable distance of 10 years, Others see the benefit in being a pressure tool against the assembly to finish its work in a more reconciliatory tone.

The idea is not entirely without merit, though not entirely the best idea in the world either. But even if it is a good idea, I can see liberals going for it, the Ikhwan potentially going for it, but the Salafists would not probably go for it at all. The sense of urgency and immediacy towards the revolution on the Salafist side is much stronger. Of course, some worry that temporary things usually become permanent, and they're largely right. But even if, would that necessarily be a bad thing? Would a temporary small constitution featuring almost only consensus articles be a bad thing if it become permanent? Some think not, some think so.

How's your Arabic? If it's any good, read the full thing here.