Monday, April 16, 2012

Paradoxes of religious freedom in Egypt

By Tamir Moustafa and Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Reposted from The Immanent Frame 

The place of religion in the political order is arguably the most contentious issue in post-Mubarak Egypt.  With Islamist-oriented parties controlling over 70 percent of seats in the new People’s Assembly and the constitution-writing process about to begin, liberals and leftists are apprehensive about the implications for Egyptian law and society, including the rights of Egypt’s millions of Coptic Christians.

Mindful of these anxieties and pragmatic in its approach, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has backed away from earlier calls for an “Islamic state.”  Its 2011 election platform opts instead to promote the sharia as a “frame of reference. ”  Working hard to assuage anxieties both at home and abroad, the Party explicitly calls for a “civil state” and repeatedly stresses the importance of equality of citizenship among Muslims and Christians:

"Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, are integral parts of the fabric of the one homeland, with equal rights and duties, and without distinction or discrimination, and all together they must remove the injustice inflicted upon them."

Yet the FJP operationalizes this commitment to equal citizenship and religious freedom by declaring further that, “the basis of citizenship is full equality before the Constitution and the law and fully sharing all rights and duties, with the exemption of

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brookings Stanford Policy Paper: Drafting Egypt's Constitution

Reposted from the Brookings Institute

With parliamentary elections now complete, Egypt moves to the next major step in its fitful political transition – drafting a new constitution for the republic. As the fundamental document establishing the framework for governance, the new constitution will have a lasting effect on Egyptian law, politics, and society. It therefore presents a unique opportunity for Egyptians to reshape political power, enshrine fundamental rights, and restructure processes of governance.

However, the constitution writing process is likely to be as tumultuous as the road traveled thus far and the outcome remains uncertain. Confidence in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has plummeted as the result of its erratic and unilateral control of Egypt’s political transition. And poor management of the transition has exacerbated tensions between liberal, leftist, and Islamist trends as various actors work to advance conflicting agendas in a rapidly changing political context.

This paper examines the most important issues and actors in Egypt’s constitution drafting process, with a special focus on how procedural deficits may result in substantive shortcomings in the new constitution itself. The paper draws attention to the gulf between “best practices” in constitutional design and the political realities of the Egyptian transition. Policy recommendations are presented in light of these realities.

Click here for the full report in English
Click here for the full report in Arabic