A soldier stands in front of graffiti drawn by protesters on the wall of the presidential palace in Cairo December 12, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi)

Ten Reasons to Boycott Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum

Author: almasryalyoum Posted December 13, 2012

A debate is currently taking place on the constitutional referendum. Should we participate and say no, or just boycott?

SummaryPrint As opposition groups mull their participation in Egypt's upcoming constitutional referendum, Majdi Khalil argues in favor of a boycott as the only way to respond to an “already illegitimate” process.
Author Majdi Khalil Posted December 13, 2012
TranslatorsSami-Joe Abboud Joelle El-Khoury

Supporters of the first option say the following: We want to remove the legitimacy of this constitution through a high percentage that votes no. Should they insist on passing this constitution, the high numbers who vote against it will remove its legitimacy at the local and international levels.

They add that boycotting has led to Islamists dominating the Shura Council and allowed them to reach the highest position in the state. This resulted from our inaction and the boycott of this election. We have to learn from these experiences.

According to a second group, including myself, boycotting the referendum is the right choice, for the following reasons:

  1. The Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohammed Morsi, by which he granted immunity to the Constituent Assembly, is void and invalid, and so are its implications. Therefore, voting on this constitution is also invalid, and the last thing we want to do is give legitimacy to a process that is already void. We shall not be carried away by the illegitimate rules they are imposing on Egyptians. This whole game is unacceptable and illegitimate.
  2. Let's put the Constitutional Declaration aside, as though it were not issued. The referendum is unconstitutional. Moreover, preventing the Supreme Constitutional Court from issuing its opinion regarding the Constituent Assembly and the Shura Council emanates from the fact that the Brotherhood knows that the assembly and the council are illegal. Thus, the court will rule against their constitutionality and subsequently dissolve them. In other words, participating in the referendum is in itself a way of supporting an illegitimate constitutional process.
  3. President Morsi called for a dialogue with the opposition and scheduled it for Saturday, Dec. 8, but insisted on holding the referendum on schedule. So what is the point of the dialogue? In addition, this dialogue would be a waste of time and an attempt to divide and infiltrate the National Salvation Front. This silly debate is solid proof of this. Hence, there is an intention to proceed with the political process, with all of its mistakes and shortcomings, including the constitutional referendum. This is incompatible with the fact that dialogue aims at achieving consensual solutions. Thus, the management of this dialogue and its outcome are part of a policy of lying to Egyptians, a policy followed by the Brotherhood.
  4. The vast majority of our respectable judges have flatly refused to supervise the referendum, given that an overwhelming majority of the people is against it. For the same reason, 203 honorable diplomats have signed a statement explaining their refusal to supervise the referendum in our embassies abroad. If they object to the mere idea of supervising an invalid process, how are we supposed to be involved in such a process?
  5. President Morsi — with the Constitutional Declaration that he issued and its effects — has completely destroyed the state of law. Therefore, how can we agree on holding a referendum on a constitution that is supposed to be the supreme law, in a country where the president has destroyed the state of law, the prestige of judges and the rules of national consensus? Suffice it to say, the Constitutional Declaration’s effects include the appointment of a new prosecutor-general, who ordered that Hamdeen Sabahi, Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa be investigated on charges of high treason and plotting to overthrow the regime!
  6. The National Salvation Front, along with all political factions and respectful political parties in Egypt, has recommended boycotting the referendum. We support national consensus, particularly given that there is national unity against Morsi at present and a unified opposition front that will be standing in the face of the Brotherhood until they return to political correctness and move away from arrogance, superiority and violence, or else their fascist regime will irrevocably fall.
  7. Our goal is to put an end to this absurdity and deception called the “Constitutional Declaration and the referendum on the constitution” and not to participate with a vote of yes or no. All referenda that have been held in modern Egypt were passed, and this disastrous constitution will be also passed. Therefore, it is important to stop the whole process. If we fail to do so, we will boycott and let them play alone.
  8. Those who will oversee the referendum are judges from the Brotherhood and other employees that can be easily persuaded. Nothing guarantees that the referendum will not be forged, in the absence of supervision by an independent judiciary or an international body. Moreover, fraud can change a no into a yes, whereas a boycott will be clearly seen by Egyptian civil society, through low voter turnout. Then, the popular legitimacy of the constitution will fall, since the turnout should be high in such a referendum. 
  9. In the absence of the essential and necessary foundations for a civil state and state of law, the Brotherhood’s publicity will be intensified and found everywhere. It will be used to fool gullible individuals, buy the the poor, declare individuals to be infidels and turn the referendum on the constitution into a referendum on Islam and Shariah law. In this atmosphere, no respectful political process can succeed. Rather, it will turn into polemics, violence and misunderstanding. Is this appropriate for a process linked to the constitution of the country?
  10. This constitution is designed to suit Islamic movements and lays the foundations for a state of religious despotism. It is a foundling constitution and those who have witnessed how the vote on it happened will know that it is about an appropriation process of the authority, not a dialogue on governance. After Vice President Mahmoud Mekki said that survival is for strongest, after the clashes in the Ittihadiya neighborhood and the discrimination between Egyptian blood by calling some martyrs and others not and after the supreme guide and Khairat al-Shater threatened a massacre for Egyptians, their intentions are revealed. They consist of coercively imposing the opinion of a political faction on the entire Egyptian people. This process is completely rejected and the participation in the referendum means to accept the logic of force, the language of violence and the spirit of religious superiority and discrimination.  

For all these reasons and many others, we call for the downfall of this foundling draft constitution. If we cannot achieve this, we can at least boycott the referendum.  

There is one last and important remark for the success of the boycott: The entire Egyptian people opposing the Brotherhood’s fascism is required to rush to all committees on the day of the referendum and hold signs proclaiming that they boycott the Brotherhood’s constitution until its fall. With a heavy presence and signs in front of all the committees, the referendum will receive a death blow.

In conclusion, democracy is not a referendum decided by a majority. If America held a referendum, black people would still be slaves.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/12/ten-reasons-to-boycott-egypts-constitutional-referendum.html

Published Cairo, Egypt Established 2003
Language Arabic Frequency daily

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