Egypt’s second Constituent Assembly is racing to finish the first integral draft of the constitution before the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan ends three weeks from now, partially due to fears of its potential dissolution by another court order. Below is a quick breakdown of the major controversies that the constitution-drafting body still faces:
The first Constituent Assembly was dissolved by a landmark court ruling in April because it failed to represent “the full spectrum of Egyptian society.” The assembly was criticised for being heavily dominated by Islamists, as well as for lacking proper women or Coptic representation.
The selection process for the assembly itself was marred by controversy as the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party, allegedly settled on a list of members that they enforced upon the remainder of parliament in a vote that was effectively ceremonial. This prompted walk-outs by liberal members, parties and many representatives of Egypt’s key institutions in the assembly.
Many of the same controversies face the second Constituent Assembly. Some (though not as many) members have walked out again, with the verdict of a court case on its dissolution due at the end of the month.
Members of the current assembly have issued statements both pledging to respect the court’s verdict and, at the same time, reaffirming their insistence on continuing their work even if the court dissolves it. This potentially threatens to create another standoff between the Brotherhood and Egypt’s judiciary.
Saluting the flag
During a recent flag salute to the national anthem, seven Salafist members of the assembly refused to stand up with the rest of the attendance, prompting heated reactions from the media, political groups and across social networks.
Critics, consequently, questioned how the very people writing the country’s constitution could refuse to salute the flag. A detailed response by the members in question has yet to be given.