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Liberal Hamzawy seeks foreign help not interference in Egypt's constitution

Leading liberal figure Amr Hamzawy has argued that the international community could put pressure on Islamists during the constitutional drafting process

Sherif Tarek , Friday 28 Sep 2012
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Views: 2432

Politician Amr Hamzawy has been under fire recently because of a controversial column the prominent liberal figure wrote for Egyptian daily Al-Watan, with critics accusing him of demanding foreign interference in the drafting of Egypt's new constitution.  Hamzawy has said that his opinion piece was greatly misinterpreted, due to what he considers to be lack of communication..

"The constitution is not an internal affair and Egypt does not exist in an empty space; there is an international environment and treaties Egypt has respected for decades. For this reason, we communicate with the international community," he said while kicking off his hour-long interview with Ahram Online, which was broadcast live on the internet late on Thursday.

Hamzawy, a professor at the Cairo University and the American University in Cairo, is one of the secularist figures in the Constituent Assembly who has voiced reservations about constitutional amendments suggested by Islamist members of the body – tasked with forming the permanent post-Mubarak national charter.

While Islamist Constituent Assembly members – from the Salafist Nour Party and the Muslim Brotherhood – are seeking a more comprehensive implementation of sharia (Islamic law), secularists, who comprise a minority within the assembly, are pushing in the opposite direction, arguing that the Islamists' approach will infringe on freedoms.

As a result, many of the assembly's secular members have opted to withdraw from the parliament-elected body since its launch in June. The last withdrawal was that of human rights activist Manal El-Tibi, who cited the "ideological intimidation" practiced by Islamists as a reason for her action.

Although he, for similar reasons, withdrew from Egypt's first post-uprising Constituent Assembly – which was dissolved following a court ruling in April 2012 that found it unconstitutional – Hamzawy has only boycotted the current body. However, he has strongly criticised the assembly's Islamists through his show on CBC television channel, and through his writing.

In his recent controversial op-ed, the former parliamentarian discussed the same concerns about the Islamists, and went on to call on parties and NGOs to communicate with the international community in order to put pressure on Islamists to prevent them from "manipulating the rights, freedom and identity of the state."

After many on social media expressed anger at what they perceived to be a call by Hamzawy for the intervention of overseas organisations in the constitution-drafting process, he sought to clear the air. "Clarifying our situation does not mean requesting foreign interference in our affairs," he said. “And the organisations I mentioned in my article do not have the authority to do so."

Among the bodies Hamzawy said Egypt's secular camp should communicate with are the European Parliament and the United Nations Human Rights Council. "I did not ask governments to interfere," he added. "But sometimes people react based on the initial reactions to an article, and not to the article itself. They wouldn't give themselves the chance to understand."

"I usually read my articles, not because I am self-centered, but because I try to improve myself and reconsider any immature postures or bad phrasing," Hamzawy added, revealing that his following article would seek to further clarify the misunderstanding.

"I would like to see a constitution that is committed to the international codes and human rights standards. For example, if I see that the constitution does not protect the rights of women, I wouldn't accept it. In this regard, I have my reservations about the amendments made to Article 36 [which doubters believe could reduce sex equality in different aspects]."

Hamzawy also voiced displeasure that the Constituent Assembly's discussions are always held behind closed doors. "That’s why there in no civil society dialogue … There shouldn't be such hostility and fear between parties and figures; drafting the constitution is more pivotal than such disputes. It's the future of Egypt we're talking about here.

"But it will take some time for different forces…to agree as much as they disagree," Hamzawy went on. "The attempts by each political current to try to rule out one another, whether Islamists or liberals, are not acceptable."

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Rup
29-09-2012 08:56am
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For Egypt's sake.
Finally someone who makes sense, of course, he has to since he received a foreign education. My wish is to have as many of him as possible to change the genes of the Egyptian logic, which is no logic at all. Egyp's biggest mistake in the past (Abdul nasser) was to get rid of all foreigners, and its biggest mistake now is that it does not want to admit that the country needs foreign intervention to learn from it. The nasserian xenophobia! It is simple ..to all critics .. please take a look at Gulf Arab countries, and see where they reached now, u know why? Because they were well aware that they cannot do it without the experience and knowledge of foreigners. Pharos were great and I wish they could be here today to rectify what u destroyed of that civilization.
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ashraf sabrin
29-09-2012 07:13am
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GOOD STUFF
Amr Hamzawy is a very thoughtful person. Even though I disagree with him and have fundamental differences in ideaology with him, he is a person to be listened to. It worries me that people deamonize others they may disagree with.
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Najjar
30-09-2012 03:25am
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Enough is ENOUGH !!!
Demonized? that's the least he deserves considering the crime he wants to commit. He also should be on the traitors list for trying to allow non-Egyptians interfere in the nation's affaire . Decades of foreign interference and lackeys of the Zionist imperialism are behind us, and anyone who supports or even agrees with this type of traitors should be watched closely as well. Enough is ENOUGH !!!
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Najjar
28-09-2012 10:57pm
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Almost vomitted.
I personally have a lot to say about people like Amr Hamzawy. But I can only resume by stating that this guy is not only insulting the children Egypt and their respect and love for their country, he s blatantly insulting their intelligence and their dignity, let alone the revolution for which one of the ultimate aim was a total sovereignty of the nation and to completely eradicate the dictatorship of foreign powers.This guy is extremely dangerous to each and every Egyptian. Amr is after all not that intelligent to come up with such twisted and insulting unpatriotic stupidity.
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antahku
28-09-2012 10:41pm
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secularists will sell egypt
this is a very clear example and a blatant attempt by the secularists to illegally shove their distorted ideology into egyptians throats, so desperate and malicious to the point that they are willing to sell their homeland to the foreigners
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nick
28-09-2012 09:14pm
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he is a busturd who invites foreign interference to own countrymen.
he is a busturd who invites foreign interference to own countrymen.
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Encik Nawawi
28-09-2012 07:02pm
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Islam Outside Western Inside
A man with muslim name but his feeling and thinking are those of the enemy of Islam. He doubts that Islam is ever gives freedom to women just like what the westerners think about Islam. He has little knowledge and little faith in Islam. Yet he wants to be burried in muslim cemetry after he dies. There is no such thing as liberal or secular in Islam. In Islam ones is either muslim, munafiq or non-muslim.
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