Citizens International

Hypocrisy of Egypt’s Liberals and Secularists

by M.A. Kader
Citizens International

Egypt’s liberals and their allies have exposed themselves to be hypocrites who, while demanding democracy, are opposing the process to achieve it. They have organised demonstrations and boycotts by judges against President Mohamed Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration which gave him extraordinary powers to speed up the democratization process in Egypt. It provides immunity to the Constituent Assembly drafting the Constitution and the Shura Council against the Mubarak-appointed Supreme Constitutional Court ordering their dissolution. In June this year, the SCC had ordered the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament whose members were elected by millions of Egyptians and, thereby, impeded Egypt’s progress towards democracy.

Nearly two years after the 2011 revolution, there is still no Constitution in place to transform Egypt from a dictatorship to a democracy because of the demand by the liberals and secularists to imprint in the draft Constitution their Western liberal ideology which is alien to the vast majority of Egyptians.

President Morsi’s opponents received help from the neo-conservative US Senator John McCain who, fearing an “Islamic state” emerging in Egypt, called on President Obama to cut off all aid to the country. The European Union also threatened to withhold aid unless the Declaration is rescinded.

Senator McCain’s fear is rooted in Islamophobia, an irrational hatred of Islam and Muslims. Islam is perceived as a threat to Western liberalism and its values not only by Western governments but also by mentally and intellectually colonised and enslaved members of the Muslim elite.

Islamic awakening in the Arab world is threatening the interests of Zionism and Western imperialism and its local allies and agents. Therefore, instability and anarchy in Egypt and other Arab states will, they hope, work to their advantage to bring back the old order in some new form. Unseen hands of these forces are manipulating the counter-revolutionaries to create violence and chaos so that a compliant regime like the Mubarak-dictatorship can emerge again.

Despite demonstrations by his opponents, boycotts by Mubark-appointed judges and threats from the West, Morsi has gone ahead and fixed December 15 for a referendum on the draft Constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly. After the referendum, President Morsi’s powers under the Constitutional Declaration would cease to have effect. He would be subject to the limits set on his authority and powers by the democratic Constitution once it is approved by the Egyptian people.

This popularly elected leader, who is prepared voluntarily to end the extraordinary powers given to him after the referendum, has been maligned and defamed by liberals like the former IAEA head Mohamed El Baradei as a modern Pharaoh and dictator. After decades of dictatorial rule, on the initiative of President Morsi, the Egyptian people now have the power to decide the type of society and government they want.

El Baradei has criticised the draft Constitution as one “that undermines basic freedoms and violates universal values.”He made this baseless comment without providing any specifics. This criticism comes from a man who served Egypt’s dictators loyally for many years while the Muslim Brotherhood activists and leaders were persecuted, tortured, incarcerated and exiled for opposing the dictatorship. This same El Baradei had supported the West in its illegal efforts to corner Iran on the nuclear issue.

After the adoption of the Constitution, elections to the lower house of Parliament must be held. Egypt has been without an elected legislature after the SCC ordered its dissolution on technical grounds. The draft Constitution provides for the separation of powers between the two houses of Parliament, Executive and Judiciary. It entrenches fundamental freedoms and makes the military subject to civilian oversight.  These are the essential foundations of a democratic society.

The draft Constitution provides for a strong protection against arbitrary detention, torture and inhumane treatment. It embodies the right to freedom of movement, privacy of communication, freedom of assembly and association and freedom of thought and opinion.

The provision prohibiting insulting the prophets and messengers has come under criticism from these same liberal-secular groups for, what they claim, infringing the right to freedom of expression. What a perversion of the concept of freedom! It can only come from sick minds.

Freedom of the press embodied in the draft has come for criticism from some journalists. Articles 48 and 49 provide that “media organisations cannot be suspended, closed or their assets be confiscated unless there is a judicial decree” and “notification only is required to launch and own newspapers.”

The wide freedom to publish given by these Articles cannot satisfy some members of the Journalists Syndicate who want special privileges for themselves. Journalists should not be prosecuted and given custodial sentence even if they publish lies like Judith Miller of the New York Times which influenced American public opinion to support the illegal war on Iraq resulting in the loss of over a million lives, displacement of millions of people and destruction of a civilised nation.

Even Articles intended to protect women and family have come under attack from the secular fanatics. Article 10 provides: “The state shall provide motherhood and childhood services for free. It shall also guarantee co-ordination between the duties of the woman and her public work. The state shall provide protection and care for the divorced and widowed woman.” Can anyone who cares for the dignity and welfare of women object to this provision?

The Constituent Assembly has tried hard to meet the demands of the different sections of Egyptian society – Christians, Muslims, Liberals, Secularists, Socialists, Military and the Judiciary. Some compromise on one’s demands is necessary for producing an agreed draft but the liberals and the secularists tried to sabotage the drafting process by their representatives withdrawing from the Constituent Assembly and instigating the judges to dissolve the Constituent Assembly and the Shura Council.

A constitution is not cast in granite. It is a living document which evolves with the changes in society. It can always be amended by an elected legislature to strengthen democracy and meet the emerging needs of the masses.

The only way to test whether the draft Constitution is acceptable to the people is through a referendum. If they do not like it they would vote against it. The opposition can campaign to get the people to reject it. So, why are they demonstrating and resorting to violence and intimidation to stop the referendum, a democratic process, instead of going to the people to convince them to vote against the draft?

The Egyptian people have waited long enough for the promised Constitution. President Morsi must go ahead with the referendum and, after it is approved, with the elections for the lower house.

With Egypt anchored in democracy, the government can focus its efforts on solving the serious economic, social, and law and order problems, confronting the people. A handful of judges, counter-revolutionaries and secular fundamentalists should not be allowed to undermine the revolution through delaying the democratisation process and creating chaos.