In an exciting provocation of the Muslim Brotherhood on Twitter, one of them asked me if I have actually read the Egyptian constitution, as created by the political wing of the Brotherhood. Though I’d read a great deal about it, I have to confess that I indeed had not sat down and read the actual thing.
But today I am procrastinating. So I did. I read the entire constitution of Egypt, simply to avoid writing a professional summary for my upcoming novel, and to prove a point. I have since forgotten what that point is.
Here’s what I found:
25 references to God, prophets, and Islam.
5 articles granting the executive undemocratic powers.
4 serious restrictions on free speech.
3 references prioritising race.
2 serious restrictions on freedom of religion.
2 serious restrictions on the right to fair trial.
The constitution, by the way, was approved by only 21.2% of the population – 64% on a turnout of 33% – the low turnout was due to a boycotting of the referendum.
(An English-language translation of the full constitution can be viewed here.)
So without further ado:
LIST OF THINGS WRONG WITH THE EGYPTIAN CONSTITUTION.
- From the very opening line, ‘In the name of God, the merciful’, the constitution is littered with religious references. (The US constitution was written in 1787, and doesn’t use the word ‘God’ once).
- Preamble: reference to ‘Creator’, reference to ‘God’.
- Preamble: reference to ‘faith’, ‘God’, ‘Creator’, ‘Heavenly messages’, divine ‘intervention’.
- Fourth principle, reference to ‘the Creator’.
- The tenth ‘principle’ specifically prioritises race.
- Eleventh principle: ‘glorious law of Islam’
- Closing of preamble: prioritisation of race, religion.
- Article 1: prioritisation of race, religion.
- Article 2: establishment of state church, explicitly states the constitution is based in religious law.
- Article 3: religious freedom for ‘Christians’ and ‘Jews’ – no other group protected.
- Article 4: prioritisation of religious institutions, use of state funds for said institutions, ‘Islam’, ‘Islamic Law’.
- Article 10: reference to ‘religion’ as the foundation of the family; references women’s roles as mothers.
- Article 11: state promotion of Islamic moral values, prioritisation of race.
- Article 25: specific encouragement to religious endowments.
- Article 31: Strange restriction on speech: ‘No person must suffer insult or scorn’.
- Article 43: Freedom of worship and establishment of temples limited to ‘heavenly religions’.
- Article 44: Restriction on speech: ‘It is forbidden to insult any messengers of prophets’.
- Article 48: Restriction on speech: It is acceptable to censor media in times of war and ‘public mobilization’ (?)
- Article 60: Compulsory religious education for all pre-university educational facilities.
- Article 80: No statute of limitations for violations of the constitution (including the blasphemy articles).
- Article 92: The President may change the location of parliamentary sessions.
- Article 93: The President can demand closed parliamentary sessions, without restriction.
- Article 111: Tyranny by majority: Elected representatives may be removed upon a two-thirds majority vote by other representatives.
- Article 127: Undemocratic executive powers: The President may dissolve the House of Representatives subject to referendum.
- Article 128: Undemocratic executive powers: The President can appoint 10% of the Consultative Assembly.
- Article 134: Discrimination: the President must have two Egyptian parents, and not be married to a non-Egyptian.
- Article 145: International treaties which defy the constitution cannot be adopted – this exempts Egypt from a number of international human rights obligations which contradict the treaty.
- Article 150: Undemocratic executive powers: The President can create laws by referendum.
- Article 157: The Prime Minister must swear a religious oath.
- Article 198: Restrictions on fair trial: civilians may be tried by military courts if they ‘harmed the arm forces’.
- Article 212: Stipulates the creation of a government office for promoting religious endowments.
- Article 215: Media must promote ‘decency’ and ‘traditions’.
- Article 219: Prioritisation of Sunni Islam.
So there we have it! This is the shitty constitution which has since been suspended. I need a drink.