Situation in Egypt
Delivered in Plenary - 12th December 2012
As all students of political history know, a revolution represents not transformation but transition. Egypt could not have been expected to create fully-democratic institutions overnight, but nevertheless certain recent acts by President Morsi are to be roundly condemned.
The drafting of the new Constitution should have reached out beyond his Islamist power base of the Muslim Brotherhood and, in failing to do so, it alienated vast swathes of the Egyptian population. More seriously, his attempts to extend his powers by a huge margin and put himself beyond the legal reach of the country’s judiciary would have gravely compromised hard-won recent freedoms, a fact borne out by the massive popular resistance, which happily now seems to have forced a partial reversal of the decree.
Nevertheless, there are signs for cautious optimism. Today we have heard that the opposition is likely to participate in the upcoming constitutional referendum rather than boycotting it. On a wider level, the ECR welcomes Lady Ashton’s taskforce for Egypt, which promises economic assistance in return for real democratic progress in that country.
Finally, as a group, we stress the need to respect the religious freedom of the Coptic Christian minority, who feel threatened by a Parliament and a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and by Sharia being the sole legal basis within the Constitution.