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Pro-Morsi alliance criticises constitutional amendments

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood led National Coalition in Support of Legitimacy says constitutional amendments put military above constitution, favouring a 'secularist current' against national 'Islamic identity'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Aug 2013
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Egypt's National Coalition in Support of Legitimacy (NCSL), the Islamist alliance supporting deposed President Mohamed Morsi, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, has severely criticised recent amendments to Egypt's 2012 constitution during the first phase of the revision process.

The 2012 constitution – drafted by an Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly in 2012 – is being amended as part of a transitional roadmap put forth by Egypt's military and Morsi's opposition, following his ouster on 3 July after mass protests against him.

"The amendments have opened the door for the return of a presidential regime, the system which produced pharaohs," a statement by the NCSL, issued on Monday, read.

The 2012 charter was amended in a preliminary stage by a technical committee, consisting of ten constitutional and legal experts, before being passed to a 'committee of 50', comprised of fifty appointed members who represent Egyptian society and institutions.

The first committee finished its amendments this week, reducing the articles of the 2012 charter to 198 instead of 234, and making changes to numerous articles. The 'committee of 50' however will have the final word on the amendments.

The NCSL said the new amendments place the military above the constitution, due to recent changes allowing the army to choose the defense minister. The technical committee added a clause stipulating that the Supreme Council for Armed Forces must approve the choice of Minister of Defense.

The alliance also criticised a change in the article spelling out the means of appointing the country's General Prosecutor, whereby the amendments only necessitate the approval of the Supreme Judicial Council to the prosecutor appointed by the president, in contrast to them formally proposing candidates for the position for the president to choose from, as in the 2012 charter.

The selection of the General Prosecutor is a contentious subject in current Egyptian politics, since the position is regarded to have carried out the orders of the heads of the executive branch.

Controversy erupted on the subject after Morsi issued a constitutional declaration in November, giving him the power to appoint a General Prosecutor, who was later also accused of being allied to the Muslim Brotherhood against their foes.

The new amendments necessitate a two-thirds approval by Parliament to pass judicial authority laws if members of the judiciary disapprove of bills. This has been attacked by the NCSL, who maintain that no other country in the world requires such a vote.

Brotherhood MPs attempted to pass a judicial authority law in April that was severely resisted by judges across Egypt, who accused the group of attempting to force the retirement of thousands of judges not loyal to them, the most probable reason for the amendment.

The statement issued by the coalition also claimed the amended charter "destroys the role of the state in protecting morals, values and the character of Egyptian society."

It also accused the document of attempting to incite "chaos" within Egyptian society and to "defy the religious nature of the Egyptian people." This claim followed the technical committee's scrapping of an article prohibiting any insults or abuse to religious prophets.

The statement also condemned the removal of the controversial Article 219, which details what is meant by Sharia (Islamic law), the principles of which forms the main source of legislation in both charters.

"Cancelling article 219 opens the door for abnormal sects in the name of Islam".

Article 219 stipulated that the principles of Islamic sharia include general evidence, the foundational principles of Islamic jurisprudence, and the reliable sources from among Sunni schools of thought.


The article caused controversy as many Human Rights activists deemed it discriminatory against non-Sunni religious minorities.

The NCSL said a war is being waged on the "identity" of the Egyptian state, which "the revolutionaries of January 2011 wanted to transform into a modern, democratic state based on justice and equality," calling on the Egyptian people not to take part in "defacing" the constitution.

The NCSL also said the amendments favour "secular currents", which it said are against the religiosity and morals of Egyptians and will stand against attempts to "refuse democracy" and align with military rule.

The 2012 Constituent Assembly was boycotted by most non-Islamist members after they accused their Islamist counterparts of monopolising the drafting process. Egypt saw mass protests against the charter which was passed by a 64 per cent margin in December last year.

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