In FrontPage this morning I discuss Egypt’s new constitution and how it contrasts with the high hopes the mainstream media had for the “Arab Spring,” which was a fiction from the beginning:
Nearly two years after the “Arab Spring” began in Egypt, the nation’s Muslim
Brotherhood president has arrogated to himself dictatorial powers, and
is ramming through a new constitution that will effectively extinguish
the last vestiges of Egyptian democracy and establish Egypt as a Sharia
state. Just as I said back in January 2011, when the uprisings against
Mubarak began, for the people in Egypt who had real power to affect
change, the “Arab Spring” was never about democracy and pluralism,
despite the ululations of the Western press; it was always about
imposing Islamic law upon Egypt. And now, with the new constitution,
here we are.
The Associated Press
reported that the draft constitution “largely reflects the conservative
vision of the Islamists, with articles that rights activists, liberals
and Christians fear will lead to restrictions on the rights of women and
minorities and civil liberties in general.” They have every reason to
fear, for the constitution reflects in numerous particulars Sharia
restrictions on their rights.
AP reports that the constitution’s wording “could give Islamists the
tool for insisting on stricter implementation of rulings of Shariah,”
and that “a new article states that Egypt’s most respected Islamic
institution, Al-Azhar, must be consulted on any matters related to
Shariah, a measure critics fear will lead to oversight of legislation by
Al-Azhar is the foremost exponent of Sunni orthodoxy. Its
characterization of what constitutes that orthodoxy carries immense
weight in the Islamic world. It hews to age-old formulations of Islamic
law mandating second-class dhimmi status for non-Muslims,
institutionalized discrimination against women, and sharp restrictions
on the freedom of speech, particularly in regard to Islam. Al-Azhar’s
having a role in the government of Egypt and its administration of
Sharia spells the end of any remaining freedom in Egyptian society.
Notably, the constitution omits an article banning slavery. While it
may not at first glance seem necessary for a constitution drafted in
2012 to contain such a ban, in Islamic countries this is still an issue.
Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly
observed several years that in neighboring Sudan, “slavery, sanctioned
by religious zealots, ravaged the southern parts of the country and much
of the west as well.”
“Religious zealots” indeed: anti-slavery crusaders never made much
headway in the Islamic world, because slavery is rooted in the Qur’an
and Muhammad’s example. Muhammad owned slaves, and like the Bible, the
Qur’an takes the existence of slavery for granted. The Qur’an even gives
a man permission to have sexual relations with his slave girls as well
as with his wives: “The believers must (eventually) win through, those
who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are
active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex, except with those
joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right
hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame”¦” (23:1-6). A
Muslim is not to have sexual relations with a woman who is married to
someone else — except a slave girl: “And all married women (are
forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.
It is a decree of Allah for you” (4:24).
And that is by no means all. According to AP, “the draft contains no
article specifically establishing equality between men and women because
of disputes over the phrasing. However, it maintains that a woman must
balance her duties toward family and outside work, suggesting that she
can be held accountable if her public role conflicts with her family
duties. No such article is mentioned for men.”
The implications for women’s rights are as obvious as they are
unsurprising in light of Sharia’s reduction of women to the status of
virtual slaves of men, little more than commodities.
Then there are numerous articles heralding the introduction of Sharia
restrictions on the freedom of speech. Islamic law forbids criticism of
Islam, Muhammad and the Qur’an, and the constitution duly contains an
article that “bans insulting or defaming the prophet and messengers.”
But the constitution doesn’t stop there….