Sunday, March 25, 2012
Islamic groups dominate process to choose panel to draft constitution
Parliamentarians are meeting to choose a 100 member group that will draft a new Egyptian constitution. Fifty members of the panel will be sitting parliamentarians.
An Al Jazeera correspondent noted:"We have over 1,000 names that have been nominated. It's up to these hundreds of MPs to whittle them down to just 100.Fifty of that 100-member constituent assembly will be sitting parliamentarians and the other 50 will be trade unionists, members of civil society and so on,"
The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood gained the majority of seats in recent elections to parliament. The Salafist Islamist Nour Party also did very well. As a result it is expected of the 50 parliamentarians to be chosen about 40 will be Islamists. No doubt there could be many Islamists within the other fifty as well. All combined , liberal Egyptian parties have less than one third of parliamentary seats.
A leader of the liberal Justice Party walked out of the sessions when his proposal that 25 seats be reserved in the constituent assembly for public figures was rejected. This move seems to make little sense. If a majority is opposed to what you propose then you lose. That is the way the democratic system works.
The Muslim Brotherhood claims it wants representatives from all groups and parties. It probably does but naturally it would like also to retain majority control.
Liberals are up in arms over what is happening. In spite of the fact that Islamist groups won handily in the elections it seems to me that the liberals really cannot accept that decision by the voting public.
Liberal activists and judges are filing suit to challenge the decision to appoint half of the members of the constituent assembly from the sitting parliamentarians. Khaled Fahmy from the American University in Cairo said:"This can actually result in a very tilted constitution that reflects the interests of only one segment of the population, which is the Islamists," No doubt the Islamists will try to tailor the constitution to their beliefs, beliefs that must be shared by a large number of Egyptians. Of course liberals dislike those beliefs because they conflict with theirs! See this article for more. The Egyptian people ultimately get to vote on whether they approve the constitution or not in a referendum.