I’m sure if Israel decided it was going to allow slavery the Obama administration would remain silent.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is declining to criticize Egypt’s draft constitution despite spirited internal debate over whether the document adequately protects women, religious minorities and dissenting voices.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland lamented the lack of consensus in Egypt’s constitution-writing process. She says how people in Egypt view the draft is most important.
If Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi approves the constitution, it goes to a national referendum.
Nuland’s restraint didn’t reflect the views of all in the administration.
U.S. officials said there were internal debates over whether to criticize the draft constitution for limiting freedom of expression, failing to grant freedom of worship, criminalizing blasphemy and eroding women’s rights guarantees.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.
Here are just a few of the articles and omissions that should have been a no-brainer to condemn.
CAIRO (AP) — An Islamist-dominated panel is voting on Egypt’s draft constitution, the country’s first charter after the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The draft 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.
Omissions of certain articles, such as bans on slavery or promises to adhere to international rights treaties, were equally worrying to critics of the new draft, who pulled out from the panel before the vote.
Here are some of the disputed articles:
- As in past constitutions, the new draft says that the “principles of Islamic law” will be the basis of law. Previously, the term “principles” allowed wide leeway in interpreting Shariah. But in the draft, a separate new article is added that seeks to define “principles” by pointing to particular theological doctrines and their rules. That could give Islamists the tool for insisting on stricter implementation of rulings of Shariah.
- 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 clerics.
- An article underlines that the state will protect “the true nature of the Egyptian family … and promote its morals and values,” phrasing that is vague and suggests state control over the contents of such arts forms as books and films.
- 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.
- An article bans insulting or defaming the prophet and messengers, but is vague about what constitutes an insult, raising concerns of restrictions to freedom of expression.