Posts Tagged ‘Arab world’

Tunisia’s Constitution

February 16, 2014

 

 

Last week, while my computer was in the shop, I received a couple of interesting emails from Melanie Jones of watchdog.net. Here is the one she sent expressing her enthusiasm for Tunisia’s new constitution.

 

Dear David Hoffman,

This week, Tunisia passed a truly historic constitution widely heralded as a progressive and monumental document.

Here’s just some of what these brave elected representatives agreed upon in the face of strong pressure from the more extreme factions of their parties:

  • Guaranteed equality between men and women
  • A constitutional mandate for environmental protection, only the third country in the world to do so
  • A declaration that health care is a human right, with preventative care and treatment for every citizen
  • A democracywith civil laws that respects freedom of religion
  • An established right to due process and protection from torture

In one stroke, Tunisia’s become more democratic than many Western countries have been for years.

This is a revolution of democracy and a great victory for human rights — and the more we recognize that, the more Tunisia can shine as an example for the Western and the Arab world!

MESSAGE FOR TUNISIAN LEGISLATORS: We , the citizens of the world, applaud your bravery in making a strong commitment to universal human values in your constitution. People deprived of democracy around the world look to you to set the example of human rights and democratic principle — hold true to the promises made in this revolutionary document!

Click here to sign — it just takes a second.

Thanks,
— The folks at Watchdog.net

P.S. If the other links aren’t working for you, please go here to sign: http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/4238?n=55842607.pQX7mf

 

Melanie Jones is more easily impressed than I am. A constitution is only a piece of paper. You can write in any rights or protections you might want, but if the governing class of a country is not willing to abide by the rules in the constitution, that constitution is worthless. The Soviet constitution promised freedom of expression, religion, assembly and others, but no one in the Soviet Union enjoyed such freedoms. The leaders of the Communist Party had no intention of ever allowing themselves to be restrained by the sentiments expressed by their own constitution. It is likely the same might be the case in Tunisia.

I know that Tunisia is one of the more “liberal” countries of the Middle East, but I have to wonder how well a constitutional guarantee of equality between men and women is going to work in a country that is 98% Muslim. Tunisia’s former government was aggressively secular and their law code is more influenced by the French Napoleonic Code than Islamic Sharia law. Unfortunately, enforced secularism by dictators in the Arab world often causes more radical Islamic movements to form, and since they are often the ones who most opposed the oppressive government, they are often the faction of the opposition with the most credibility with the people. This has happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is possible something similar will happen in Tunisia, although so far the Islamists have not gained much influence and the leaders of the new government have rejected  any proposal to make Sharia the basis for legislation.

It remains to be seen whether Tunisia will be able to fulfill the promises made regarding environmental protection and health care for its citizens.  Such thing are usually luxuries enjoyed by wealthy countries and Tunisia is not a wealthy country, although the Tunisian economy has been growing at a steady rate. We will have to wait and see.

 

 

 

 

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Back to the Future

May 30, 2011

Here we go again. From the Jerusalem Post. They’re forming a Nazi Party in Egypt. The story doesn’t say how large this party is, only that they were underground during the Mubarrak administration and are now out in the open and growing rapidly. Their Facebook pages have some 70 followers

The newspaper said it could not verify the report, but said it found two Facebook pages that appeared recently under the title of “the Egyptian Nazi Party,” which have so far attracted 70 followers.

Members are “increasing at an unexpected rate, and several people came to ask about the nature of the party and its plans,” the report said.

The party has a one-year plan to develop Egypt – unlike the “marginalized liberal parties, which are like dead bodies,” a source was quoted as saying.

The idea to start it came after some fundamentalist-religious waves emerged, which, according to the source, created a state of chaos, and led to the burning of churches, the destruction of shrines and assaults on unarmed civilians.

Responding to the report, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said Egypt was going through a highly turbulent period, adding that all manner of bizarre individuals were launching Facebook groups and attracting members.

Historically, he said, the German Nazi party saw three attempts to copy it in the Arab world in the 1930s in Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. The Egyptian party of that time was led by former president Anwar Sadat, who went on to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

 

This isn’t really that surprising. There were links between the Nazis and various Arab nationalist groups during World War II and Hitler has been something of a hero in that part of the world for killing so many Jews. When you consider how chaotic the political situation in Egypt is at the moment, there are all sorts of movements coming out from the woodwork. I don’t think anyone can tell what kind of government Egypt will have in five years, but I doubt any developments will be good for Israel.

 

 


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