I knew that I wasn’t hallucinating, but I wasn’t sure if I were awake or asleep. It happened a few days ago, around 2 a.m., I switched on the TV to watch one of those comic thrillers. I recognized a few faces of the cast in the movie “The Night When the Constitution Was Written!” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry.
The “Big Guy” was sitting on the podium, running the show, giving orders in all directions, I figured that he feared a monster haunting him behind the curtain, like the phantom of the Opera; you feel its presence without seeing it. The phantom wanted the mission called constitution to be done tonight, as if it is postponed for a few days or weeks it will turn into a pumpkin or a frog… All the chefs were cooking “the constitution,” setting a parliamentarian world record and going faster than all previous Egyptian parliaments, altogether in adopting the 234 items of the constitution….19 hours for 234 articles!
The “Big Guy” with the magic stick (or hammer in our case) should reconsider his statements about the 300 hours of discussing each article, as what I saw in the horror movie was just a mockery of constitutional discussions and a disgrace to all parliaments and legislators since the dawn of ages. They were discussing commas and grammatical details while neglecting the meat, and whoever dares to make a legal comment, he was punished by the “Big Guy” as if he was hindering the train of democracy. And those who won’t understand are welcome to visit the “Big Guy” in his HQ as he repeated, forgetting that dozens of millions were watching and failing to understand…unless he is asking for a one-million march to his HQ!
In spite of the hassle, the monster behind the curtain or the producer of the movie didn’t forget to use some Egyptian humor, like nicknaming one of the guys “bishop Mohamad” to distract the audience from an unwanted incident, when the Egyptian Christian representatives left the movie before the end, the director replaced their vacuum with a hymn on national unity, which he called “we all represent them.”
Suddenly, the floor opens in the center and a big monster jumps out to catch, not the “Big Guy” as some might expect, but a smaller one, who was added to the cast to avoid empty chairs and guarantee a quorum. This Guy, who happens to be the head of the Egyptian Journalism Association, violated the will of the general assembly of journalists and came, because he was promised a bigger role and a reward, but he lost twice, as there was no place in the constitutional marathon to discuss a “tiny detail” such as confirming the role of the press as the fourth power!
The “Big Guy” can say whatever he wants in his HQ, he can claim victory over the invisible enemies of Egypt, he can claim that he produced the “Mother of All Constitutions” from Athens to Rome, while the constitution looks like the foundation of a new religious state, with Al-Azhar as the reference, similar to the Iranian format of religious ruling.
And maybe it is worth to mention that Amnesty International considers the draft constitution as lacking to protect human rights, neglects women’s rights and suffocates the freedom of speech in the name of protecting religion, and allows putting civilians to trial in military tribunals.
Amnesty considered this draft constitution as “a great disappointment to many Egyptians,” and that drafting the constitution wasn’t done in the most favorable environment. The president violated his oath to reconstitute the constituent committee and let the Egyptian choose a new inclusive committee in a Public Referendum, one that respects the law and admits the vital role of the independent judiciary, it added.
I really thought, or hoped, that I was dreaming that night, but the constitutional nightmare was haunting me, herds were gathering in clear and discreet movement, they looked as united as they could be against everybody else, including the dozens of millions who entrusted them to represent them.
They were happy to discuss the future of Egypt, while they were hostile to the judiciary, and especially the constitutional court, in addition to using a new machine that will quash women, the youth and the non-Islamic, and turn them into dwarfs of frogs, without any role in their new Egypt. And it seems that somebody forgot his glasses at home, so he understood that the transitional decisions are martial laws and a revenge tool!
I am not a constitutional expert, but I understand that the main function of the constitution is to unify the country, not to create cracks in the national unity, and that it should be built around national consensus not by sudden grip on power… and I believe that these people and their president wanted to take the conflict with other constituents of the nation to an advanced level, which goes beyond the un-“constitutional declaration” to create a real constitution which enables them to tighten their grip on the governing authorities.
Rays of sunrise slipped into my room, and I was hoping that the sun will disperse the clouds of this constitutional nightmare, but it seems that the movie found a way to become a reality, and I wonder if the sleeping beauty will have to wait for a long time before meeting the charming prince!
(Abdullatif Al- Menawi is the former head of Egyptian Television’s news center.)