What's going on in Egypt's new constitution?

On December 12th, the Egyptian Constituent Assembly will pass on the final  draft of the Egyptian Constitution to voters, who will decide on its adoption via referendum. The proposed Constitution has been the subject of tremendous debate, revolving around the applicability of shariah as a basis for legislation, freedom of speech, assembly, and press, and freedom of religion with regards to both non-Muslims and Muslims who doctrinally fall afoul of the Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood mainstream.

Coverage of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations of January 2011 emphasized that the protests cut across social and economical cleavages to unite Egyptians against Mubarak's repressive, constricting regime. Since then, Egyptian society has rapidly polarized; protests in Tahrir square are a recurring occurrence as varying groups try to show their strength. Coptic Christians and certain Salafi groups engage sporadically in violence in Upper Egypt, where several churches have been burned and Sufi Muslim sites attacked. The transition from the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power upon Mubarak's resignation, to the bicameral parliamentary system now led by newly elected President Mohammed Morsi was largely peaceful, though security forces did forcefully break up several protests which resulted in injury and death.

Another question the government will have to face is the status of the 1979 treaty with Israel; though President Morsi has said he will honor it, the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious and secular groups have become increasingly wroth with Israel's perceived aggression against Egypt, via occasional police actions in the Sinai (some in coordination with Egyptian security forces), and the embattled Gaza strip. The recent decision by Morsi's government to allow Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar to visit the Gaza strip (via the Egyptian-administered Rafah crossing) showcases the Egyptian government's desire for greater connections with the Arab world.

The success of the Constitution may well determine the stability of the post-revolutionary regime in Egypt. The expulsion of the SCAF means that whoever wishes to lead Egypt must address the disparate and conflicting political groups vying for power.

Toyotas of War

Diwaniyya Contributor