Egypt: Decision on Legality of Constitutional Body Delayed
Egypt’s Higher Court declined to rule on the legality of the drafting committee of Egypt’s Constitution Tuesday, sending the decision to the supreme constitutional court. Opposition leaders rejected an invitation from President Mohammed Morsi to discuss the constitution, arguing his call “lacks the clarity and mechanisms that ensure its earnestness,” while the Nour party expressed general satisfaction with the document. Meanwhile, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who is in Egypt for a two-day visit, said it’s increasingly apparent that the secular and religious aspects of the constitution remain the crucial questions.
Nathan Brown discussed the constitutional process, which he called “highly polarized” and “hard to follow,” in an article for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Although the Islamists “are correct when they claim to be acting with restraint,” Brown also said that “Islamists are dominating the process and are likely to see a constitution that reflects their interests.” Brown highlighted several disagreements over the working draft of the constitution, including articles that deal with the role of Shari’a, al-Azhar and gender, but he also emphasized that context and implementation are just as important.
Tawfiq Okasha, owner of the TV station El-Faraeen, was convicted of defamation and sentenced to four months in prison in a Luxor court. Okasha often criticized the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi on his show, causing some in the international community to view the sentence as an attack on free speech. In a letter released by Reporters Without Borders, the organization said, “such a conviction and sentence based on the criminal code sends out a highly negative message for freedom of information in Egypt.