Monday, December 10, 2012

In depth: Back to military rule in Egypt?

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: There are already a few tanks stationed near the presidential palace in Cairo as protesters continue to demonstrate against President Mohamed Morsi over the draft constitution that is to go to referendum on December 15.
Now, as Morsi orders the military onto the streets to “protect state institutions” ahead of the vote, activists and average citizens are fearful it could mean a return to military rule. And they are not happy......

The constitution, drafted by predominantly conservative Islamists, is the issue at hand in Egypt. Critics say that even though Morsi was democratically elected, he does not represent the majority and cannot implement his will through the constitution.
They argue that the drafting process was not representative of the country, especially after numerous groups, including women’s rights organizations, Coptic Christians and liberal leaders withdrew after saying the Islamists would not compromise on any issue.
Adding fuel to the protest movement now gripping the country is the first-round of election votes, which saw Morsi garner only 25 percent of the electorate. Anti-Morsi critics say this is proof that he does not have a mandate to rule with an iron fist and force down the throats a constitution that eliminates women’s rights, equality and freedom of religion.....

At the heart of the matter for more than half of Egypt’s 90 million population, are women’s rights and how they are represented, or not represented, in the draft constitution.
The Egyptian Association for the Assistance of Juveniles and Human Rights added that Article 70 also does not prohibit child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The NGO decried the assembly’s failure to specify the age of children in the charter, particularly when Egypt was one of the first signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which clearly declares anyone below the age of 18 as a minor.
The minimum age for marriage set by the Personal Status Code in 2008 was 18, which is not the case under the new constitution.
According to Amnesty International, Egypt’s draft constitution does not shield minors from early marriage and permits child labor.

Ultra-conservative Salafists – Islamic puritans – have been calling for the marriage age to be reduced, and under the new constitution, it could very well see the gross exploitation of the country’s young girls.
“It is permissible for the girl at the age of 9 or 10 to marry,” Yassir Barhami said in discussing a woman’s sexual reproduction and his interpretation of Islam during a September interview.
The Salafist preacher claimed that under Islam when a girl begins to ovulate she is ready for marriage.
He added during a television debate on Dream TV that “marriage of a girl would not be a supplement for education,” but added that it “was better” to marry a girl young “than falling into sin with customary marriage.”
He is a member of the constituent assembly that was tasked with drafting the constitution.
The cleric cited the Qur’an in arguing that any girl who is menstruating should be married and begin having children.
At the same time of advocating the marriage age be dropped to 14-years-old, he argued that the Salafist Constituent Assembly is also pushing for a law that denies “slavery against women” in the new constitution.
And he and the Islamists seem to have won.
Manal al-Taibi, a now resigned member of the Constituent Assembly, said that this call is the promotion of child marriage and is akin to rape.
She has resigned her position on the assembly in protest to the overuse of Sharia law, or Islamic law, permeating the drafting process.
On top of the marriage issue, women’s rights as a whole have been removed, and the clause on equality has been left out......."

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