Egypt, Observations from the Left.
Women March with Men Against Morsi.
Demonstrations continue against President Morsi’s power-grab and constitutional plebiscite. Egypt’s political conditions change daily.
The President’s Moslem Brotherhood (MB) has increasingly resorted to open violence against the opposition.
We can only wish the protesters success.
But what is the reaction of the left groups in the UK?
What do they think of the opposition to Morsi, in the streets and in political bodies?
Sameh from Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialists comments (Socialist Worker)
also it is obvious that there are elements of the old regime—the “feloul”, or “remnants”—who are trying to use this mass movement. Some liberal leaders have unwisely made alliances with former Mubarak people—and this is used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their propaganda. The Brotherhood says, “Look—these people want the old regime back,” which isn’t true of course.
The latest protests are being portrayed as being controlled by the “non Islamist” parties. But this movement is out of their control. They didn’t want there to be a march on the presidential palace—but they couldn’t stop it.
“We say the constitution is pro-business and pro-army. People feel this is not what the revolution is all about. That’s why people are on the streets. The revolution is still on.”
…there is a political problem with the forces that are now arrayed against Mubarak. They are not just the revolutionary forces of 25th January. They now include all who are disappointed by the Muslim Brotherhood, including the remnants of Mubarak regime! Amr Mussa, former-Mubarak Minster of Foreign Affairs, has joined Hamdeen Sabahy, the Nasserist ex-presidency candidate, and liberal Mohamed El Baradie along with heads of the liberal and socialist parties. This opportunist alliance has called for civil disobedience and mass marches to Tahrir square and the Presidential Palace.
The revolutionaries need to quickly accumulate forces if they are not to be drawn into a confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood before they are able to ensure a reasonable chance of success. If thye are not able to do this the conflict may end with the military leadership SCAF imposing a counter-revolutionary solution. Amr Mussa would be happy with this…which is why it is so dangerous to include him in any opposition front. Moreover, since there are popular forces in support of Morsi it can appear that January 25th would be knocked down by a military coup ‘supported by the masses’.
To avoid this scenario the Revolutionary Left in Egypt must build roots among the masses in a way that it has not done so far, despite having opportunities to do so. Yes, confrontation was unavoidable as it has been many times in the past. But the Left must build again among the working class (which was harassed by many laws were adopted during the past few days) and not blindly ally with its class enemies.
* I am open to correction on Atef’s allegiance.
In the past those form the International Socialists’ tradition stood for alliances with the Islamists ‘against the state’. The SWP published articles advocating voting for Morsi with a ‘heavy heart’. Counterfire has even closer relations with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)in the UK, through the Stop the War Coalition, and internationally through its campaign against ‘Zionism’.
To add to this confused position the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt have wavered, from working with the Islamists on pro-intifada and anti-war movements, to a section of them backing Morsi as a lesser evil, to their present opposition. Where the SPAP stands at present is, in the face of having to chose sides, is also unclear.
Now feel that the time has come again to raise the issue of class – not apparently worth mentioning in the past., Or rather, it was then asserted that in some vague way that the MB represented the ‘oppressed’ and the ‘masses’.
Apparently this mess will all be resovlved in the ‘struggle’.
The pious bourgeoisie of the Moslem Brotherhood must be shaken at the SWP and Counterfire’s less enthusiastic stand today.
By contrast Alain Gresh on le Monde Diplomatique’s site, offers an important analysis which illustrates what it at stake (December the 6th).
He argues that Morsi has increasingly relied on direct commands from his party, the Moslem Brotherhood. He takes advice, orders even, from the majlis el-irachad, the ’political bureau’ of the organisation controlled by businessman Khayrat Al-Chater
“Ayant vécu l’essentiel de leur existence depuis les années 1950 dans la clandestinité ou dans une semi-légalité, ils ont développé une vision paranoïaque du monde politique et de leurs ennemis.”
Having lived for most of their political existence, since the 1950s, in semi-illegality or illegality, they have developed a paranoiac vision of the political world and their enemies.”
Gresh states that they have great difficulty adapting to democratic political debate.
They see in “toute critique, dans toute contestation, un vaste complot pour les éliminer” – in every criticism, all opposition, a vast conspiracy to destroy them.
However Morsi is in far being an all-powerful Pharaoh.
Not only are the MB a minority in the government, but they do not ave full control over the police, the security services, and the army. In this Morsi is not in a position analogous to Mubarak. He cannot use them to crush the opposition.At the same time the highest Moselle and Christian religious authorities, who backed Mubarak, are now independent.
Gresh warns however, of element son each side which could push the country to civil war
In the meantime who do we back?
Democratic demands are not secondary.
They come first, bound up with workers’ rights under attack by the pro-Bosses Moslem Brothers.
Back the anti-Morsi fight without reservations!
Here are some compelling reasons:
On the Morsi Constitution, Human Rights Watch
Protection of Rights
Article 81 states that no law may limit the essence of the rights and freedoms set out in the constitution, but goes on to say that, “These rights and freedoms shall be exercised insofar as they do not contradict the principles set out in the Chapter on State and Society in this constitution.” The provisions in that chapter include article 10, which states that, “The state and society shall commit to preserving the true nature of the Egyptian family,” and article 11, which states that, “The state shall protect ethics and morals and public order.” The language in both these provisions is overly broad, open to interpretation, and available to justify wide-ranging limitations on key rights, Human Rights Watch said. It appears to place the “true nature of the family” and morals and public orders above fundamental rights.
Freedom of Expression
Article 45 protects freedom of expression without stating what legitimate limitations are permissible and how to balance this right against article 31, which states that, “The individual person may not be insulted,” and article 44 prohibiting “the insulting of prophets.” Articles 31 and 44 are not legitimate limitations on freedom of expression under human rights law, and they would appear to make difficult, if not impossible, any meaningful reform to existing penal code provisions that criminalize “insult” and defamation, provisions frequently used in the past to prosecute critics of the government. Criminal prosecutions on charges of “insulting the president” or “insulting the judiciary” have increased since Morsy took office.
Freedom of Religion
Article 43 on freedom of religion limits the right to practice religion and to establish places of worship to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Previous drafts had provided for a general right to practice religion but limited the establishment of places of worship to adherents of these three Abrahamic religions. Article 43 discriminates against and excludes followers of other religions, including Egyptian Bahais. Under former President Hosni Mubarak, security forces would frequently arrest religious minorities including Shia, Ahmadis, Bahais, and Quranists because of their beliefs.
Military Trials of Civilians
The final draft fails to limit military trials of civilians, backtracking on language in the rights chapter in drafts as recently as November 11, article 75 of which stated that, “No civilian shall be tried before the military justice system.” Assembly members deleted this language after military justice officials formally objected. Article 198 of the final draft now provides that, “Civilians may not be tried before the military justice system except for crimes that harm the armed forces, and this shall be defined by law.” This leaves intact the military’s discretion to try civilians under the Code of Military Justice.
One positive development is that the final draft no longer includes what had been article 68 in earlier drafts on women’s rights, which stipulated that equality for women would be subject to conformity with rulings of Islamic law, a provision strongly promoted by Salafi members of the assembly. However, the draft no longer lists “sex” as one of the grounds for prohibiting discrimination, as no grounds are named. Article 30 now states that, “Citizens are equal before the law and equal in rights and obligations without discrimination,” without specifying whom this provision covers. Read together with article 10, the failure to specify discrimination on the grounds of gender becomes problematic, Human Rights Watch said. Article 10 says:
The state shall provide free motherhood and childhood services and shall balance between a woman’s obligations toward the family and public work. The state shall provide for special care and protection for single mothers, divorced women and widows.
The state’s role should be confined to ensuring equality and non-discrimination, without interfering with a woman’s choices about her life, family, and profession or to justify discrimination on that basis, Human Rights Watch said. In addition, language prohibiting trafficking of women in a previous draft has been excluded from the final draft.
Status of International Obligations
Article 145 states that the president shall sign treaties and that they must be ratified by the upper and lower houses of parliament, and goes on to say that, “No international treaty that contradicts the provisions of this constitution shall be signed.” Human Rights Watch had urged members of the Assembly to include a provision directly incorporating human rights as defined by international treaties ratified by Egypt into Egyptian law to strengthen the basis for amending many domestic laws that restrict rights. In January, Human Rights Watch published a report urging parliament to amend many repressive laws, saying that reforming these laws should be a legislative priority.
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