Egypt’s new constitution protects religion and ignores the rights of women

A DRAFT constitution approved by Egypt’s Constituent Assembly this week falls well short of protecting human rights and, in particular, ignores the rights of women, and – in order to safeguard religion – restricts freedom of expression.

The constitution, reportedly rushed through with undue haste, has been slammed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and others over the past 24 hours.

The draft also allows for the military trial of civilians.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:

This document, and the manner in which it has been adopted, will come as an enormous disappointment to many of the Egyptians who took to the streets to oust Hosni Mubarak and demand their rights.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui

Freedom of religion is limited to Islam, Christianity and Judaism, potentially excluding the right to worship to other religious minorities such as Baha’is and Shi’a Muslims.

The constitution fails to provide for the supremacy of international law over national law, raising concerns about Egypt’s commitment to human rights treaties to which it is a state party.

Furthermore, the document fails to fully guarantee economic, social and cultural rights, such as protection against forced evictions. It also tolerates child labour.

Paradoxically demands for dignity and social justice were at the heart of the “25 January Revolution”.

Sahraoui added:

The process of drafting the constitution was flawed from the outset, and has become increasingly unrepresentative. We urge President Morsi to put the drafting and referendum process back on the right path, one that includes all sectors of society, which respects the rule of law – including the vital role of an independent judiciary – and results in a constitution that enshrines human rights, equality and dignity for all.

Amnesty has expressed concern that the assembly – widely boycotted by opposition political parties and Christian churches – is not truly representative of Egyptian society. The body is dominated by Freedom and Justice Party and the Nour Party. At the outset, the assembly only included seven women and their numbers have since dwindled.

Sahraoui pointed out:

The new constitution will guide all Egyptian institutions and it should set out the vision for the new Egypt – one based on human rights and the rule of law: a document which is the ultimate guarantor against abuse. The constitution must guarantee the rights of all Egyptians, not just the majority.

But the approved draft comes nowhere near this. Provisions that purport to protect rights mask new restrictions, including on criticism of religion. Women, who were barely represented in the assembly, have the most to lose from a constitution which ignores their aspirations, and blocks the path to equality between men and women. It is appalling that virtually the only references to women relate to the home and family.


10 responses to “Egypt’s new constitution protects religion and ignores the rights of women”

  1. RabbitOnAStick says:

    So why is anyone surprised.
    If you vote for an islamic party to power. It’s hard to complain when they completely alter the country to an islamic state mentality after they are in power.

    Turkey is along the same path. Save at least the president moron in Turkey doesn’t hide his money making schemes. which is what his power is all about.
    morsee won’t be any different.

  2. Matt Westwood says:

    Right, they had their chance. I have informed you thusly. No arguments, it’s armageddon then.

  3. John Dent-Smith says:

    Islam is the religion of men in tents in the desert tending goats
    and herding camels,women must do as the men wish& are
    property.It is a religion of the ignorantled by bigots

  4. Great Satan says:

    Furthermore – there are reports that th Muslim Brotherhood is involved in organised sexual violence ;

  5. Weeping Willow says:

    What more can you expect from an Islamic Nation with an Islamic Party. The Sharia Law will soon become the law of the land. The Egyptian Revolution, when it began sound promising but these advancements, if I can call them advancements, will drag them back to the streets demanding their rights.

  6. jay says:

    “fails to provide for supremacy of international law over national law ”

    neither does the US constitution. And it’s a good thing. I would hate to see our free speech rights, for example, redefined by the hodgepodge that is the UN.

    Of course there are different concerns in Egypt at the moment, but you can’t have it both ways.

  7. Georgina says:

    The people running UN must be insane.
    To give ‘human rights’ to an abstract ideology, rather than to an actual human, is taking Orwellian semantics too far.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Judges in Egypt have refused to oversee a vote on the country’s new draft constitution, to be held in two weeks.

    The Judges’ Club’s decision follows a confrontation between Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court and Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi.

    The court said it was suspending its work after its members were prevented from ruling on the legitimacy of the body that drew up the constitution.

  9. RabbitOnAStick says:

    Barriejohn. Thx
    It relates only to reciting [rote learning] the coran in religious classes. Turkey does have always has had religious schools where they can wear all their cover-up-clothes. Funny just like the United Kingdom with it’s faith schools. That idiot Blair did so much damage in this regard.

    the problem with Turkey is that it was set on a slippery slope to a new Iran with the seemingly materialistic capitalistic Turget Ozal. A cunningly disguised islamic puppet who set in motion the building of more islamic schools and mosques in a couple of years than in the 60 odd years before.

    Erdogan’s AK party has a light bulb as it’s logo. The slogan should be “the light’s on but no-one’s at home”.