Egypt's constitutional principles under threat

Arabic newspapers also discuss Hosni Mubarak's trial, Palestinian statehood and Iraq violence.

Egypt must beware of theocratisation

Proponents of political Islam are attacking Egypt's "constitutional principles" proposal, columnist Ali Ibrahim wrote in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

The proposal is under review by the cabinet and the ruling Military Council, but the attacks give one reason to believe that the country's Islamists may well be intending to "hijack" Egyptian identity and reduce it to religiosity, the columnist wrote.

The constitutional principles' draft, as published in the Egyptian press, contains nothing very divisive. "These are broad principles … providing for a civil, democratic state, predicated on the values of citizenship, rule of law, respect of plurality, justice, equal opportunity," the writer said.

According to this proposal, the people represent the nation's sovereignty and are, alone, the source of power. "It's hard to see how anyone with good intentions would object to any of these principles," the columnist went on.

Why is it, then, that the undercurrents of political Islam in Egypt, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Gamaa Al Islamiya, are uneasy about it? The "sovereignty to the people" item might be the answer. "It is the phrase that protects the nation's identity from going down the route of a theocracy," the writer noted.

Following a theocratic model, say like Iran, where "spiritual leadership" overwhelms politics, is no way to go for Egyptians.


Mubarak deserves fair trial but no sympathy

It was certainly astounding that 1,700 defence lawyers applied to defend Egypt's former president on charges of crimes against Egypt and the entire nation throughout 30 years of his dictatorial reign, wrote Abdelbari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

"Are they not members of the same people of which 40 million individuals are living below the poverty line and at less than US $2 (Dh7.3) a day?" the writer asked.

"We support Mr Mubarak's right to a fair trial and to defence lawyers; a right he never granted his victims who were wrongfully court-martialed for daring to oppose his regime and policies."

What seems even more bizarre is the enormous Israeli sympathy he received, with Israel the first to object to Mr Mubarak standing trial on his sick bed. "No wonder they sympathise with him, for he devoted his 30 years as president to serving their interests and fighting their wars, whether by complicity or by silence.

"Such compassion does not stem from humanitarian concern, but rather from fear of a future without the likes of Mr Mubarak and his associates who succumbed to Israeli threats.

"President Mubarak doesn't deserve compassion, although he does deserve a fair trial and Egypt has given him an honourable example in this respect," Atwan concluded.

Palestinians can't go wrong with UN bid

Yesterday's visit to Lebanon by the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was not just a fraternal call to exchange civilities, columnist Rajab Abu Sariyya wrote in the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam.

One of the objectives behind the visit is to have Lebanon - which will be chairing the UN Security Council in September - issue a formal recognition of the Palestinian state ahead of the PA's bid for full Palestinian statehood at the UN next month.

Many have said the outcome of the Palestinian move is unpredictable and may hurt the PA's relations with the US.

"In fact, however, by going to the UN and taking on that diplomatic challenge, the Palestinians have nothing to lose," the writer asserted.

This is the first time the PA has actually taken matters in its own hands. For the past two years, all Israel was offering was "talks about talks".

Even if vetoed by the US, which is the likely outcome, this political move will win the Palestinians something. "Notably, themselves," the writer said.

The rift between the two main factions in the Palestinian struggle against Israel, Fatah and Hamas, will be bridged by this unifying cause. The two will refocus their efforts from internal bickering to foreign diplomacy.

Iraq violence the result of lack of consensus

The bombings that rocked four provinces of Iraq during this holy month have stirred fear of a new cycle of sectarian violence, the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan said in its editorial.

These attacks are a source of great concern for Iraqis, who question their timing as well as the potential security turmoil they may signal.

Regardless of the reasons, the recurrence of such incidents reveals that Iraq's security forces have failed in maintaining order.

As a result, armed groups emerged stronger. Some militias are engaged in settling scores.

Amid the security deterioration, Iraqis pay dearly for political conflicts, which, unless resolved on a national consensus basis, are likely to lead to still more use of force.

At the same time, lawlessness could give ample reason for prolonging the stay of US troops in Iraq, not for training purposes but for controlling the sovereignty of the country.

What is needed today is action by parties to raise people's political awareness and get rid of sectarianism.

One way to achieve this is to affect a genuine national reconciliation, placing Iraq's interests at the top of the agenda.




* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi

Published: August 17, 2011 04:00 AM


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