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A TRUE ARAB AWAKENING?

THE NEW EGYPTIAN CONSTITUTION

This chapter was written after a constitutional referendum was held in Egypt on 14 and 15 January 2014 approving the new constitution by 98.1 per cent of voters with a turnout of 38.6 per cent. This new Egyptian Constitution, through which the military has taken back a great deal of power, has been criticized by many, especially because anti-constitution demonstrations were oppressed heavily by security forces. In fact many people that criticized the constitution or the military in public have been arrested. Nevertheless, the 50-member committee that drafted the new Constitution was generally representative in terms of reflecting different population groups. Only the Muslim Brotherhood refused to participate. Indeed, and in the final analysis, Sekem itself had a significant influence on the new Constitution, especially influencing the cultural and environmental, as well as political and economic elements that have been incorporated. Critical in that regard is Article 32 on natural resources, where the Constitution states:

Natural resources belong to the people. The state commits to preserving such resources, to their sound exploitation, to preventing their depletion, and to take into consideration the rights of future generations to them.

And Article 46 on the environment, which states:

Every individual has the right to live in a healthy, sound and balanced environment. Its protection is a national duty. The state is committed to taking the necessary measures to preserve it, avoid harming it, rationally use its natural resources to ensure that sustainable development is achieved, and guarantee the rights of future generations thereto.

Regarding economics, Ibrahim Abouleish always argued for including the term sustainable development even though he acknowledges the fact that most people do not understand the meaning behind it. Article 27 is encouraging in this respect:

The economic system aims at achieving prosperity in the country through sustainable development and social justice to guarantee an increase in the real growth rate of the national economy, raising the standard of living, increasing job opportunities, reducing unemployment rates and eliminating poverty.

Article 51, on human dignity, was included after Ibrahim Abouleish shared his inspiration and admiration with regard to Article 1 of the German Constitution:

Dignity is a right for every person that may not be infringed upon. The state shall respect, guarantee and protect it.

The implications for the coming Egyptian democratic system are huge, though it is obvious that applying what has been said is another story. But at least it has been said and now Egypt can concentrate on the implementation.

STEPPING BACK AND FORWARD AT THE SAME TIME

It is very likely that the next president of Egypt will again come from the military (in the event, as of July, 2014, it now has in the guise of ex General Sisi). For many people this represents a step backward but for others this moment represents also a new chance to recover from the three years of revolutionary crisis, to bring stability and security again and to start a new level of development. Indeed, and referring back to Spiral Dynamics (Chapter 8), it is a military instigated "Truth Force" that is asserting itself against the Brotherhood's "Power Gods". One can only hope that the transition in Egypt towards a brighter future will not be focused only on economic development and political institutions, but in our terms, pay much more heed to natural grounding (as per Sekem, cultural emergence and the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development – see Chapter 22). The new Constitution supports this hope somewhat. However, looking more closely at the current reality the decisive question remains: How will things be implemented in practice and what are the challenges to be overcome? We start "on the ground" with the environment, the first natural starting point of an integral polity in Egypt, and indeed the Middle East.

 
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