CEOSS Discusses the Civil Society Vision in the Constitutional Amendments
The Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services‘ Forum for Intercultural Dialogue organized a conference entitled “Civil Society and Its Role in the Development of the Constitution’s Philosophy,” to discuss the vision of civil society in the 2012 amendments to the Constitution. This conference was attended by: Dr. Ali Selmi- former Deputy Prime Minister; Hafez Abu Saada – Head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights; Hussein Abdel Razek – Member of the constitution committee; Mohamed Abdel Aziz member of Rebel Movement; Dr. Samir Morcos- Writer and Researcher; Chancellor Mahmoud Khudairy – Former Vice-President of the Cassation Court; and 200 intellectuals and media professionals. Among the issues discussed were the basic principles of a modern state, civil society’s vision, the philosophy of the constitution, institutional restructuring, and effectuating the Egyptian culture.
In his speech, Dr. Rev. Andre Zaki, CEOSS General Director, emphasized the importance of maintaining the second article of the frozen Constitution, calling for the need to remove any sectarian articles, and in particular Article III. He pointed out that the Constitution should state that only the Supreme Constitutional Court has the right to control Constitutional Articles and interpret them with a final judicial say.
He also stressed on the importance of the rule of law and applying it without discrimination. He added that participation of all segments of society in writing the Constitutional amendments is essential so as to develop a Constitution expressing the aspirations and hopes of the Egyptian people and their June 30th Revolution.
Dr. Ali Selmi, former Deputy Prime Minister, said that the religious movements rejected the Constitutional draft presented in 2012, considering it a violation of the basic principles of the Sharia law, and threatened to resort to the Constitutional Court. They also had objections on the phrase that states “Egypt is a civil state” in the Constitution.
Hafez Abu Saada, Member of the National Council for Human Rights, said that a modern state is one that is governed by law and does not discriminate between citizens on the basis of sex, religion or race. It consists of several elements, but most importantly that the State should not be controlled by groups or individuals that are not elected be the people and should be a State of institutions.
Mr. Mahmoud Khudairy, Former Vice-President of the Cassation Court, said that the new Constitution will not be very different from the 2012 Constitution, adding that both of them are extensions of previous Egyptian Constitutions. He also warned of the danger of inheritance of governmental positions, which will lead to lead to corruption and the absence of talents.
Dr. Samir Morcos said that there should be an article that ensures the existence of the current political movements of the Egyptian street, especially the Rebel and April 6 Movements since political life should not be limited to political parties only. He added that the 2012 Constitution is not one that reflects a modern state, pointing out that there are articles in the 1923 and 1971 Constitutions better than the 2012Constitution. He also said that the Constitution has always been based on religious sectarianism of the heavenly religions rather than a constitution for all Egyptians promoting citizenship and equality.
At the end of the meeting a document was issued to highlight the most important comments and recommendations discussed at the meeting about the draft Constitution, which was handed over to Mr. Amr Moussa, Chairman of the Constitution Committee, as the vision of a number of civil society organizations working for the good of the country and the benefit of its citizens.