Friday, November 30, 2012

Egypt's New Islamist Laws; Sharia Based, No Equal Rights For Women, Slavery Not Prohibited

Egypt's new constitution, if you can call it that was rushed through by the Islamist and Salafi majority today. Virtually all of the Christian and more liberal members simply left and did not vote.

There are still huge demonstrations taking place in Cairo and Alexandria against President Mahmoud Morsi assuming what amounts to dictatorial powers, but just as with Mubarak, the key is which way the army jumps.

And also as with Mubarak, the army is waiting to see if President Obama gives them a signal on which way to go. The carrot in this case is the $1.5 billion in funding the U.S. gives the Egyptian military; Egypt's army, like Pakistan's owns numerous private businesses and revenue sources that depend on it.

The constitution itself states that sharia will be the main source of legislation, and also mandates that  Al-Azhar, Egypt's fiqh or  Islamic school of jurisprudence, must be consulted on any matters related to Islamic law. In other words, oversight of legislation by Islamic clerics. Some other interesting bits include:

  • An article that says that the state will protect "the true nature of the Egyptian family ... and promote its morals and values," which pretty much establishes  state control censorship  the contents of  broadcasting, books and films.

  • An article that says that the state will control science, the arts and literature to implement them 'in a way that serves Egyptian society'. Goodbye to music, any arts depicting the human form or anything related to Egypt's pagan past, or any science that doesn't strictly conform to sharia norms.

  • Nothing that gives women equal rights with men. In fact, the new 'constitution' states specifically that a woman can be held accountable for her duties towards her husband and family if outside work or any public role doesn't meet her lord and master's approval. And speaking of which, there is no official ban on slavery, just like in sharia.

  • An article that bans insulting or defaming Islam or Mohammad, but is deliberately  vague about what constitutes an insult, which gives it a pretty wide range.

  • An article that preserves the right of the military to try civilians inclosed door military tribunals.

  • In other words, a totalitarian Islamist state.The only way it won't happen is if the U.S. signals the military that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood need to be which case, we might see a military junta instead of an Islamist dictatorship. Given his serious jones for Islamists, I rate the chances of President Barack Obama sending those signals as slim and none.

    The new constitutional draft is to be sent to Morsi fo rhis signature tomorrow, when he will sign off on it and decide on a date for a referendum, possibly in mid-December.

    There's absolutely no chance it won't pass when it does, in spite of the crowds in Tahrir Square.

    They've been bypassed, and they don't count any more.


    nazar said...

    hey this is what they want, right?
    didn't the muslim brotherhood gain the overwhelming majority of the votes?

    one benefit of the arab spring is that at least we have some clarity about what kind of countries these are. when they collapse under their own weight, at least no one can point the finger at us.

    Bourbon said...

    Umm, so what exactly is your point Rob?

    B.Poster said...

    "...the key is which way the army jumps." Very respectfully, it seems you are finally getting it. The situation in Egypt has always and continues to revolve around what the military does.

    Unfortunately, again very respectfully, the other half of the analysis is incorrect. The army is not "waiting" for a signal from Mr. Obama or anyone else in America. Such interference in Egpyt's policies, even if the US were capable of such a thing which it is not right now, would be resisted vigorously by the Egyptians and likely every other major world body of importance.

    What is actually going on is the opposite. The US is waiting to see what direction the Egpytian army will go in order to determine what direction it needs to go. Furthermore the Egyptian army officers are waiting to see, if they don't know already, what direction the rank and file soldiers are going go. That is assuming they wish to survive which I assume they do.

    After all an army cannot function if its soldiers and its officers are in disagreement. Furthermore the soldiers have the option of doing uspeakable things to the option of mutinying and executing the officers if they wish. Basically the officers need the support of the soldiers under them.

    Given the current state of affairs in the US, it needs even limited Egyptian cooperation much more than Egpyt needs American aid. As such, we would likely expect to see the aid continuing to flow regardless who is POTUS. You are correct in pointing out that this POTUS has a significant affinity for Islamists. Its not only him but this affinity extends throughout the US government. As such, a serious problem with regards to Egypt and the rest of the ME is compounded.

    In summary, once the military withdrew support for Mubarak he was done. There was nothing the US could have done to save him even if it wanted to which it probably did not want to. Once it became clear that Mubarak was done, then and only then did Mr. Obama begin to call for his ouster. In the unlikely event, the military decides to back the protestors against Mr. Morsi, the US will likely fall in line and call for his ouster. The whole thing depends on the Egyptian military. The US has very little say here right now.

    Finally, due to prior poor decision making on the part of the US its options with regards to Egypt and the broader ME are very limited. Even if we could somehow have men in power today like Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or FDR who was one of the great war time presidents in American history and they faced the constraints that have been imposed upon us by our bad prior decisions they would hard pressed to come up with any good solutions.

    The best places to start would be to begin restructing our economy and our finances so as to have less reliance on the ME. Then it would become more difficult for countries like Egypt to blackmail us. This will take time and will likely be very difficult. No time like the present to get started!!