Translation: Khaled Fahmy offers 32 reasons to vote “NO” on the proposed constitution

I wanted to follow up my last post, a translation of the preamble of the proposed Egyptian constitution, with another translation. This time the source text is a response by the Chair of the History Department at the American University in Cairo, Khaled Fahmy, to the proposed constitution on his facebook. Fahmy argues that the constitution, which was drafted by a Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi-dominated body, proposes sweeping changes to Egyptian governance that open up space for abuse and corruption. I think this document provides the most in-depth account of secular/liberal grievances against the constitution that I have yet seen, so I wanted to share it with the English speakers among us. Continue reading

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Translation: Preamble of the proposed Egyptian constitution

Thousands of Egyptians have again taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest. This time, the offense stems from President Morsi’s efforts to ram through the text of a constitution that would drastically change the rule of law in Egypt. Morsi announced last Saturday, December 1st, that a referendum will be held on December 15th–a straight up or down vote on the constitution. Egyptians living abroad were supposed to begin voting today, but reports have surfaced that that process has been delayed. Continue reading

The Muslim Brotherhood Takes to the Streets (pt. 2)

This post is the second in a two-part series attempting to explain the massive crowds we see in Tahrir Square today in Egypt. In part one I tried to lay out the political-legal wrangling that has led to the dissolution of Parliament, the seizure of certain aspects of executive authority by the military, and the delay of the announcement of the winner of Egypt’s Presidential elections held last week. Continue reading

The Muslim Brotherhood Takes to the Streets (pt. 1)

In massive demonstrations of roughly 100,000 over each of the past three nights, Egyptians took to the streets. Demonstrations have become a regular feature of political life since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, but most of them these days number around 1-2,000. When numbers like this take to the streets, emotionally-loaded developments are usually a key cause.

So what caused this latest round of demonstrations? In the next two posts, I will try to answer this question by looking at two sides of the story. In Part One (today), I will try to summarize the political-legal wrangling taking place between Parliament, Army, Judiciary, and the (as of yet unnamed) President. In Part Two (tomorrow) we will look at the coalition-building taking place between the Muslim Brotherhood, young liberals, and supporters of a more radical fundamentalist interpretation of Islam in politics. Both sides together account for the story of these stunning developments. Continue reading

On the History of Egypt’s Constitutional Transition

the People’s Assembly, the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament

The big news coming out of Egypt today is that secular liberals have walked out of  the latest meeting of the Constituent Assembly (CA). This comes after a similar boycott of the last meeting of the CA in March 2012, and thus cast serious doubt on the ability of the Egyptian parliament as it is currently configured to write a new constitution. Continue reading

How did Ahmad Shafiq Succeed in the Egyptian Elections?

Wednesday March 2nd, 2011 was an historic night for Egyptian media in the midst of an historic period in Egyptian political life. Less than one month after Hosni Mubarak had stepped down from his thrity-year reign as President of Egypt, Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq went on Egyptian news channel ON TV to debate noted author and liberal columnist, Alaa al-Aswany. In the days before the 2011 revolution, media engagements by government figures were done with pre-scripted questions and were tightly controlled. This program would have a different format. Continue reading

Egypt 101: Blood from a Stone

Physical map of Egypt

Physical map of Egypt

Egypt is among the world’s most densely populated countries.  This is not always immediately discernable through statistical analysis because the area included in the borders of the country are quite large, encompassing some 995,450 square kilometers. But if you look at a physical map of Egypt, like the one above, most of the landmass is covered by the scorched earth of the Sahara Desert. This vast expanse is gashed by the green Nile Valley—which opens at Cairo to fan out across the Delta to the Mediterranean Sea.  The vast majority of the country lives in this fertile escape from the desert— a cultivated area of some 6 million acres, or about 5 percent of the total land mass.[1]

For some 5,000 years of human history, highly-centralized states have manipulated the water that flows from this gash to control massive amounts of people and resources. But when deranged dictators get a taste for power, they are rarely satisfied until they engorge themselves. So from this gash has flown not only the life-giving waters of the Nile, but also the blood of the Egyptian people.When blood is allowed to fester over an open wound, a scab forms. And if a deep cut goes without proper treatment, the injury will never heal. Continue reading