On December 15, Egypt’s draft constitution is due to be put to a referendum. A year ago, Egyptians were thrilled to know that finally their country’s constitution would reflect their democratic hopes and aspirations. Yet the document that they will now vote on is more likely to dash those hopes and dim Egyptians’ prospects for democracy.
The constitutional drafting process was rushed, without the input of liberals, non-Muslims, and women, all of whom boycotted the process, owing to the preponderance of Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood, and primarily President Mohamed Morsi, is banking on the assumption that the strength of Egypt’s Islamist vote will earn him enough support among “regular Egyptians,” and that the opposition will have little impact on the referendum’s outcome.
One political adviser for the ruling Freedom and Justice Party – the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing – even boasted that the Brothers could easily mobilize 20 million supporters. The Brothers dismiss those who have demonstrated in the streets during the past three weeks as Mubarak sympathizers.
Morsi’s decision on November 22 to grant himself absolute authority for the spurious purpose of defending the revolution is not new for Egypt. A succession of dictator-presidents ruled the country under a state of emergency for more than 40 years. While Morsi has now bowed to pressure to annul a decree granting him powers without judicial oversight, it seems only yesterday that people were prepared to put their fears aside and trust that Morsi was ready to rule in the interests of all Egyptians.