Many readers are beginning to get bored of the ongoing controversy over what should come first, the constitution or the elections. And indeed, they should be.
I'm not a member of any political party, group or movement, so I do not see myself as part of this dispute. But I would like to say a final word on this tedious issue.
A state of confusion has prevailed, which has divided the Egypt’s political forces into two distinct camps. The first camp wants the parliamentary elections to be held first, followed by the drafting of a new constitution. They support the constitutional amendments and claim that those who voted “Yes” in the 19 March referendum — 78 percent of the total turnout — are more committed to democracy than those who continue to oppose the amendments.
On the other hand, there are those who voted against the amendments and are being cast as unwilling to accept the majority’s wish. Some have gone so far as to ridiculously brand the “No” voters as liberals, secularists and “people who have nothing to do with Islam.”
I don’t think those who level such accusations even understand the meaning of liberalism or secularism. Such claims are dangerous; they divide people into groups according to their political ideologies and then label their adherents as non-believers.
It’s true that the vast majority of voters are in favor of the amendments, yet nobody has the right to state that those who voted “Yes” are good Muslims and those who voted “No” are bad liberals and secularists.
More dangerous still is the fact that a certain group gives itself the right to speak in the name of all the “Yes” voters, suggesting they all adopt its ideas.
It's grossly simplistic to allege that the “Yes” voters want the elections first while the “No” voters want the constitution first. Voters naturally had different motivations for accepting or rejecting the amendments. Those who claim the majority voted in favor of holding elections before writing a new constitution willfully ignore the fact that a group of articles, and not a single one, were put to referendum. Voters were forced to either accept the whole bundle of amendments or reject it. It’s misleading to claim that the results reflect the Egyptian people's view on a single article more than others. Had the voters been allowed to cast their ballot on each article individually, the outcome of the referendum would have been different.
Calls for the “Constitution First” are not anti-Islamic or anti-democratic. They represent a point of view that may be right or wrong. The controversy could have been resolved by resorting to the State Council for a legal opinion on the matter. Regrettably, however, the situation is intensifying and I can only hope it doesn’t degenerate any further.
While I approve of resorting to the State Council, I’m against taking the dispute to the streets – for example, by launching petitions to reverse the current process and support drafting the constitution first.
I hope we can reach an agreement soon so this tedious matter will not be discussed again.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.