Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi advised the Egyptian people to vote “yes” this week to the constitutional referendum so they won’t lose out on $20 billion that Qatar has vowed to invest in Egypt.
Logically, it is irrational to vote on the country’s constitution that oppositional figurehead Mohammed al-Baradei described as a social link between the Egyptians, in exchange for financial support from any side.
However Qaradawi’s advice is one of the verbal tricks that were popularly used for terror or intimidation, in order to win the referendum, since there is no longer in Egypt a President that imposes what he sees as appropriate on the Egyptians, as was the case during Hosni Mubarak’s reign.
The ballots are now the referee. Qaradawi wants to intimidate Egyptians by telling them they will lose Qatari donations; others went much further than that; many Islamists have said those who vote for the new constitution will to go to heaven, and threatened those who vote against it that they will burn in hell. And similarly, other parties were afraid that those voting for the constitution will cause strife that could lead to a civil war.
Of course, the $20 billion and the civil war threats are means of mobilization and incitement that reflect the emotions and the importance of this referendum as a contract between the regime and the people. It also reflects the hopes of each party. But, what is the value of a constitution that does not believe in the stability of the country?
What is the value of a constitution that splits the Egyptians? And also, who will save Egypt if the constitution causes instability in the country? It is neither possible for Qatar to grant one dollar of the vowed $20 billion as investments and aid, nor the International Monetary fund (IMF) or the donor countries if Egypt loses its stability.
Therefore, voting for or against the constitution will not be important if the referendum fails to persuade the losers to accept the outcome with approval and genuine faith in the results. The draft constitution and its controversy have ruined the political climate, shot the Egyptian pound dead, and caused serious problems in the stock exchange.
No one in Egypt has the ability to dodge this disaster whether the majority voted for or against the constitution, except President Mursi; his mission will be difficult because each side has considered this situation as a decisive one. Some extremists have joined this controversy; for instance, Salafi Jihadi groups in Sinai have threatened they will resort to the use of weapons to impose the constitution by force.
Even if everyone is against this transgression, the challenge is that each party has reached to a point where there is no more room for maneuvers or retreat later on.
However the constitution is a civilian project that can be endorsed or rejected even after the referendum. Mursi is the key to a solution then; he is the only one who is required to show true leadership through reassuring those who are afraid, and he is the one who is required to gather all the parties at the conference room’s table in his palace to reorganize what was ruined by the constitution’s controversy.
This will oblige him to turn down his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood, and act as a President of the republic. If he cannot also be a president of the Copts and liberals, it will be useless for him to remain the leader of some Islamic groups that will overwhelm him in many issues, asking him to do the impossible.
Mursi should appreciate the civilized political position of the opposition leaders, who unanimously said they do not distrust his legitimacy as president and do not agree with those asking for his resignation. The opposition leaders have admitted his right to see through his current presidency term. Nevertheless, the opposition’s legal and moral position will not remain as it is now, if the president will always be with the Brotherhood and marginalize all other parties in the first democratically-elected government.
(Abdelrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. This piece was published in Asharq Al-Awsat on Dec. 16, 2012)