Cornelis Hulsman, 1 Introduction in:

Cornelis Hulsman, Diana Serodio (Ed.)

The 2014 Egyptian Constitution, page 17 - 20

Perspectives from Egypt

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3838-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6933-2,

Series: Anwendungsorientierte Religionswissenschaft, vol. 10

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
1 Introduction (Cornelis Hulsman) Following the deposal of Mubarak's regime after the January 25, 2011 revo lution, intense debates arose over the formation of a new constitution. These discussions highlighted the growing divide between Islamists and non-Islamist actors over the new direction the country would now be tak ing. In "From Ruling to Opposition" we described the rise and subsequent fall of Islamists movements to political power in Egypt.1 This book describes the formation of the 2014 Constitution that followed their fall from power. The Muslim Brotherhood has been vocal in presenting these constitutional talks as a rift between Islamists and secularists. In the Islamist narrative, the secularists are operating in conjunction with the old regime. This, however, is not an accurate representation of Egyptians. While most Egyptian Mus lims are pious believers, many do not support the political Islamist notion that the state should safeguard the religion. Regardless, it was this narra tive, propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to their grassroots campaigns and charity work, which helped them succeed in the polls in 2011 and 2012. Another divide exists between those who believe that the military is essential for stability in Egypt, and those who argue that the military should remain separated from politics. However, there is an over lap between supporters of both the positions. The 2014 Constitution is a direct result of the events and discussions held following the election of Muhammad Mursi in 2012, and the shifting bal ance of power that developed in Egypt after the January 25 revolution. Arab West Report has been following these discussions closely. In 2012, we published a book on the Egyptian debate over references to the Shari a in the Egyptian Constitution.2 In May 2013, we published a report about Egypt's 2012 Constitution.3 This book discusses Egypt's new 2014 Constitu tion and compares it with the 2012 version. Hulsman, C. (ed.) From Ruling to Opposition; Islamists Movements and Non- Islamist Groups in Egypt 2011-2013 (Tectum Verlag, Marburg, 2017). Hulsman, C. (ed.) The Shari'a as the Main Source of Legislation; The Egyptian Debate on Article II of the Egyptian Constitution (Tectum Verlag, Marburg, 2012). Hulsman, Serodio and Casper 2013. 17 During the formulation of the 2014 Constitution, debates on Egypt's iden tity and the country's new path were very apparent between various lib eral, nationalist, leftist, and conservative factions. Although the Islamist bloc no longer dominated the 2013 Constituent Assembly as much as it had during the two 2012 Constituent Assemblies, the influence demonstrated by the few Islamist-leaning members on a number of central issues - at times joined by the Coptic Orthodox Church representatives - highlighted Egypt's conservative religious undercurrent. With the goal of unifying all Egyptians, walk-outs were avoided at all cost in the 2013 Constituent Assembly, lest they challenge the legitimacy of the final document. Regardless, the abstention of the Muslim Brotherhood meant that, for better or worse, despite the participation of individuals with Brotherhood ties and sympathies, the document could not be entirely rep resentative of Egyptian society. Since the 2014 Constitution was enacted on January 18, 2014, it has become apparent that the societal unity sought by the 2013 Constituent Assembly has become difficult to achieve. Throughout 2014, 353 terror attacks took place on security and civilian targets. These attacks escalated in 2015,4 and have continued in 2016 and 2017. In a parallel trend, authorities responded with mass arrests and police crackdowns. The elections for the first House of Representatives in 2015 were the last phase of the Constitutional roadmap. Our methodology in this study is strictly descriptive.In conducting our in terviews; we listened to the diverse viewpoints of a variety of Egyptian citi zens, often presenting them with contrary arguments to obtain a clearer understanding of their perspectives. We have documented these conversa tions for the purposes of this study. Furthermore, we hope to contribute to promoting further dialogue on the subject in Egypt; the major challenges in Egypt can only be overcome through the unity of the Egyptian people. The Interviews conducted for this study began in December 2013 and con tinued until August 2014. During this period, eleven members of the Con stituent Assembly, two reserve members, one expert advisor to the Assem bly, and several experts outside of the Assembly were interviewed by the authors. Transcripts of recorded interviews were made and hundreds of Nader 2015. 18 pages of reports and articles were organized to document the media discus sions around the formation of the 2014 Constitution. Drafts of the document were subsequently handed to reviewers and experts at the Egyptian Coun cil for Foreign Affairs for further comment.5 This work has been a collabora tive effort involving a large number of people, continuing until July 2015. A condensed form of this study was published in German in 2016 as a short booklet by Missio, Germany. The work you now hold in your hands repre sents the final and most complete form of this study, which we are proud to present to you. See Acknowledgements. 19

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After President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011, discussions followed immediately regarding the revision of the Egyptian Constitution. Islamist political groups insisted that Parliamentary and Presidential elections should precede the formation of a new Constitution, aiming to use their momentum to gain the upper hand in the Constitutional Assembly. Non-Islamists believed that representatives from all layers of society must first formulate a new Constitution before elections should be held. Out of this struggle emerged the 2012 Constitution, a document deeply influenced by Islamist political ideas and goals. Dissatisfied with the proceedings, the non-Islamists walked out of the Constitutional Assembly before the Constitution was finalized. In attempts to reconcile the alienated non-Islamist factions, and heal a divided Egyptian society, the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 was created. All efforts were made to avoid a similar walk-out from Islamist factions. Various political actors were interviewed during, and shortly after the 2014 constitutional formation process. This book is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the discussions and debates surrounding the formation of the 2014 Constitution. This book follows and complements the previous books in the series on recent religious and political developments in Egypt, in particular Vol. 3 The Sharia as the Main Source of Legislation? (2012), Vol. 8 Rise and Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood 2011-2013 (2016), Vol. 9 From Ruling to Opposition 2011-2013 (2017).