Morsi’s Coup d’Etat and Rushed Draft Constiution for Egypt (with latest English translation)

What is President Obama doing regarding Egypt that might help avoid a second Islamic dictatorship like the one in Tehran?

Background articles by the Trenchant Observer:

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Coup d’Etat in Egypt; William Butler Yeats and “The Second Coming”
November 28, 2012

“L’État, c’est moi”—Mohamed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood launch coup d’état in Egypt
November 27, 2012

English text of Egypt’s new draft constitution

For the most complete English translation of the first 199 articles of the draft constitution Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has submitted to a referendum to be held on December 15, see

Egypt’s draft constitution (English translation by Nariman Youssef), Egypt Independent, December 1, 2012. Additional articles are being translated and will be added throughout the day.

For analysis of some of the key provisions of the draft constitution and how they differ from the 1971 constitution, see:
Gregg Carlstrom, “Controversial clauses in Egypt’s constitution; Many aspects of draft constitution passed by constituent assembly are unpopular with citizens and global rights groups,” Al Jazeera, November 30, 2012 (20:23 h).

BBC News, “Comparison of Egypt’s suspended and draft constitutions, BBC, November 30, 2012.

Analysis and Commentary

Democracy is not simply a piece of paper called a constitution. As the experience of many countries demonstrates, including the Weimar Republic and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, would-be dictators and tyrants can subvert democracy through the relentless leveling of independent institutions and political groups which oppose them, as they pursue a strategy of obtaining effective control or acquiescence of all of the institutions of the state. Both the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran offer further chilling examples of how such dictatorships can be established, with a little time.

It is thus not the piece of paper which Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood now seek to shove down the throats of all institutions, parties, political groups and individuals who strive to achieve a pluralistic government based on and subject to the rule of law, including international human rights treaties to which it is a party and the international human rights obligations contained in customary international law, but the realities of power and how it is exercised that will dtermine if Egypt is to have a democratic future. To have such a future, political power needs to be exercised democratically and in accordance with the rule of law, not through dictatorial means.

To Morsi’s appeal, “Trust me,” a great number of people in and outside of Egypt will ask, “What have you done to prove that you are trustworthy?”

Morsi has replaced the editors of leading state-owned newspapers. Morsi has replaced leadership of the military, and now counts on their support by promising them the retention of their economic and other privileges. But these promises too can be revised. Morsi has conducted a coup d’etat abrogating the rule of law, stripping the Constitutional Court and the judiciary of its role of judicial review and placing his decrees beyond their reach. Egypt has a well-developed legal system. Yet at the precise moment of the birth of a new constitution, instead of strengthening the independence of the judiciary and the guarantees for the separation of powers, Morsi has acted to weaken them and ensure they will be subservient to his and the Brotherhood’s will.

Can democracy be established through the consolidation of all power within the hands of a president and his single ruling party, which has a strong ideology, strictly enforced, that is in many respects fundamentally anti-democratic in nature?

This is the question facing Egypt and the drama the country is living, today.

Consider but one article of the draft constitution: There is freedom of religion for Muslims, Christians and Jews, the people of “the book”, in accordance with 14 centuries of Islamic law or sharia. And according to the text of the draft constitution, this freedom of religion exists only for them.

Following World War II, the Western democracies had ample experience watching the fledgling democracies of Eastern Europe subverted and taken over by “the salami technique” employed by communist parties controlled by Moscow and backed by Soviet armed forces. One by one, they fell.

Democracy is a state of national consciousness as well as a country with a piece of paper called a constitution. The Soviet constitution of 1936 was a beautiful piece of paper, in many respects, but it did not stop Stalin’s purges, or his other crimes under a totalitarian system.

Further Commentary and Analysis of the Broader Context for Morsi’s Actions

Tomas Avanasius writes from Cairo the following:

[The following text can be translated into English with Google Translator.]

Religiöse Minderheiten und Frauen behandelt die neue ägyptische Verfassung als Menschen mit eingeschränkten Grundrechten. Die Vielfalt islamischer und ägyptischer Kultur fällt dem Tunnelblick religiöser Eiferer zum Opfer. All das interessiert die Muslimbrüder nicht – sie sind Wegbereiter einer Glaubens- und Gesinnungsdiktatur in Ägypten.

Muslimbrüder und Salafisten schaffen eineinhalb Jahre nach Beginn der Revolte in Ägypten Fakten: Die neue Verfassung ist der erste, der entscheidende Schritt hin zum islamischen Staat. Eine politisch pervertierte Religion und Moral mit Anspruch auf Allgemeingültigkeit soll den Alltag bestimmen – in Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur, bei der Bildung, in der Ehe, im Privatleben. Das ist totalitär. Christen, gemäßigte Muslime, Säkulare und Freigeister werden zu Menschen zweiter Klasse gestempelt, Frauen auch. Kunst und Kultur werden an Richtlinien gemessen, die nicht ästhetischer, sondern theologischer Natur sind. Die Vielfalt der islamischen und der ägyptischen Kultur fällt dem Tunnelblick religiöser Eiferer zum Opfer. Dass die bärtigen “Verfassungsväter” ernsthaft diskutiert haben, ob neunjährige Mädchen schon verheiratet werden können oder doch erst die Pubertät erreicht haben sollten, sagt alles über diese Rechtsexperten.

Im Grunde sind die viele Muslimbrüder eine religiöse Variante von Lenins Kommunisten – frömmelnde Bolschewiken, die sich als geheimniskrämerische Avantgarde der Muslime sehen. In Wahrheit jedoch sind sie die Wegbereiter einer Glaubens- und Gesinnungsdiktatur in Ägypten.

***

The last paragraph of Avanasius’ article opinion states, in English, the following:

Basically the many Muslim Brothers are a religious version of Lenin’s Communists – sanctimonious Bolsheviks, who see themselves as the secretive vanguard of the Muslims. In fact, they are the pioneers of a belief and conviction dictatorship in Egypt.

–Tomas Avanasius (Meinung/opinion), “Neue Verfassung für Ägypten: Freifahrtsschein ins Paradies für Islamisten,” Die Südeutsche Zeitung, 1 Dezember 2012.

Con Coughlin, the Defense Editor of The Telegraph, writes:

It is not only the anti-government protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who should be concerned about President Mohammed Morsi’s audacious power grab. Mr Morsi’s claim at the weekend that “God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship” has echoes of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s claim during the 1979 Iranian revolution that his mission to overthrow the Shah enjoyed divine guidance.

Since his announcement that he was granting himself sweeping new powers, Mr Morsi has been trying to reassure sceptical Egyptian voters that he has no ambition to become Egypt’s new Pharaoh. But you only have to look at the violent scenes that have once again erupted in Tahrir Square to see that the majority of Egyptians remain unconvinced.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Iranian demonstrators during the build-up to the Shah’s overthrow in February 1979 as they sought to remove a similarly corrupt regime.

But as we now know to our cost, the worthy aspirations of the Iranian masses were hijacked by Khomeini’s hardline Islamist agenda, and within months of the Shah’s overthrow Iran had been transformed into an Islamic republic.

I am sure I am not the only one wondering whether Mr Morsi is about to become the new Ayatollah Khomeini.

–Con Coughlin (Defense Editor), “Is Egypt about to become the new Iran?” The Telegraph, November 28, 2012.

What is President Obama doing regarding Egypt that might help avoid a second Islamic dictatorship like the one in Tehran?

The Trenchant Observer

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