Co-citizenship is the solution

Taha Abdel Alim , Wednesday 2 Nov 2011

Egypt should be for all Egyptians, without discrimination, with citizenship and human rights guaranteed for all

I believe “co-citizenship is the solution” and this slogan is the compass for a comprehensive vision, roadmap and practical action plan to build a co-citizenship state that will achieve the aspirations of Egyptians and what Egypt deserves and is capable of.

By a co-citizenship state I mean, first, that Egypt is for Egyptians; to have and uphold national sovereignty after it was liberated from colonialism and occupation. Second, it would be a country for all its citizens without discrimination or disenfranchisement, inclusive not excluding, uniting not fragmenting, committed to the will of the nation and the constitution. Third, building a new system that achieves and safeguards all citizenship rights and human rights, including political, civic, economic, social, cultural and religious ones as well as others.

I repeat, the January 25 Revolution – like any other revolution – means that the people will not accept being ruled and have their lives run by a regime that failed and led to revolution. Power cannot be controlled by the regime whose legitimacy collapsed through revolution. The precondition for building a new order depends on the interim authority followed by elected powers realising that loyalty and allegiance to Egypt will not be a priority in the hearts and minds of Egyptians without clear and firm steps towards building a state for all its citizens, by guaranteeing all co-citizenship rights for all citizens, without exception or bias.

I have previously explained that Egypt is at a crossroads and it has to choose between taking the safe road or slipping onto the road of regrets. Here, I add the safe road begins by building a state of co-citizenship, and the road of regrets squanders the principles of a state of co-citizenship. We must remember that meeting all co-citizenship rights is a supreme goal that is achieved through a long and difficult road. The price is lower and time is shorter when the nationalist leadership has a comprehensive and clear vision for this strategic goal, a roadmap that avoids booby traps, as well as a plan of action that builds the largest base of national conciliation.

An objective critical reading of Egyptian and world history makes the slogan “co-citizenship is the solution”, building a state of co-citizenship, an inspiring model worth achieving. In short, a state of citizenship is not just the anti-thesis of a “religious” state that claims to rule in the name of religion, discriminating against citizens based on their religion, beliefs and creed, but is also the opposite of a “follower” state through colonisation or marginalisation. It is also unlike despotic states that come in the form of colonialist, totalitarian, fascist, police and military states, which block the right of the people to choose their destiny and suppresses the will of the people since it is the source of power. It also discriminates between citizens based on their political views and how much the regime trusts them.

A state of co-citizenship is also contrary to a “racist” state that discriminates against its citizens based on their creed, colour, sex, language or national heritage, or one that practices slavery. It is also contrary to a patriarchal state that curtails the rights of women in different ways and at different times. It is also the opposite of a “user” state that squanders economic and social rights of workers, the poor and weak, discriminating against its citizens by monopolising wealth and social status, such as free market capitalism and all types of social manipulation regimes.

Co-citizenship is the solution means raising the banner of comprehensive progress and beginning at human consciousness, meaning the value of “national liberation” through eradicating colonialism and the people exercising their right in deciding their destiny themselves. Also, safeguarding national sovereignty whereby the state controls national resources, wealth and the national market, and upholding its right to choose its own economic and social system.

The value of “freedom” is guaranteed by achieving and protecting basic rights, especially freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression and information. As well as the freedom to form political parties, peaceful organisations, freedom of movement and migration, commitment to transparency and accountability, guaranteeing the nation’s right to choose and re-choose the ruler and the regime in honest cyclical elections, safeguarding the right to appointment to public positions without discrimination.

Co-citizenship is the solution also means upholding the value of “social justice” through achieving and safeguarding equal social opportunities and rights, especially the right to suitable work and choosing jobs based on fair conditions and wages, ensuring a generous income for workers and their families based on humanitarian conditions and an environment that guarantees safety and health and not slavery. It also requires reasonable work hours, regular paid vacations and payment for working on official holidays, as well as regulating the right to strike and form syndicates, guaranteeing means of income during unemployment, sickness, impairment, being widowed and old age. At the same time, providing technical and professional training programmes and equality for promotion based on seniority and aptitude.

Co-citizenship is the solution also upholds the value of “economic and social advancement” by building a system that achieves economic proficiency and commitment to social justice, and guarantees the right to liberation from hunger and destitution, enforce a prosperous society and build an advanced economy based on the modern achievements of the industrial and technological revolution that is able to compete in the age of information and global economy. It is also a system that protects personal property, whether individual, joint or co-op, without a pre-construed ideological formula and a practical spirit that incorporates the role of the market and state interference, as well as the roles of the public and private sectors. It also guarantees the right to mandatory education and technical and professional secondary education for everyone for free, as well as access to higher education based on equality and aptitude and providing it for free.

Co-citizenship is the solution upholds high the value of “national dignity” by achieving and safeguarding national security through building the comprehensive ability of the country to protect its borders and sovereignty. Also “human dignity” by providing appropriate education, healthcare and accommodation as well as protecting the family, childhood and motherhood while upholding the value of “equality”, without discriminating against citizens based on religion, creed, gender, language, opinion, origins, wealth or ancestry. Also, upholding the value of “the mind” by protecting the freedom of scientific research and creative activities, and the individual’s right to benefit from scientific progress and free participation in cultural life and appreciation of art.

Co-citizenship is the solution is a slogan that must be raised high to enforce the value of “the sovereignty of the law” to guarantee that all citizens are equal in front of the law, and providing efficient legal justice without procrastination. At the same time, condemning torture, harsh and brutal penalties and behaviour that violates dignity, banning baseless detention, incarceration and banishment, as well as protecting the right to life, security and personal safety. Also, protecting personal privacy and reputation, and upholding the value of “peace” by supporting a just peace and encouraging understanding, compassion and friendship among ethnic societies and groups, and building a just economic world order.

Finally, we should remember that co-citizenship defines the principles of “living together” within a certain country and with the world. It is a concept that was unknown to societies until the modern age. The notion of co-citizenship has developed since the “liberal” French revolution as well as the “socialist” Russian revolution, up until the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued at the end of the colonial era. It passed through the collapse of tyrannical regimes, fundamentalist communist regimes, and fundamentalist capitalist regimes, and is a concept that corresponds with the values, principles and goals of Islam and Christianity and embodies the interests of the nation.

As long as the cognizant nationalist elite continue to spread this slogan it will become a force for change, because once many people walk in the same direction, they will forge a path.

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