On March 19, a referendum on recent constitutional amendments as devised by a committee of judges and lawyers will take place. In all optimism, this may be the first time Egyptians experience democracy. For this reason, I find it unnecessary to cancel or postpone the referendum as it will give Egyptians an opportunity to feel involved in the affairs of their country. It will instigate the sense of belonging that has been wiped out over the years. This is what Egypt needs rights now – democratic activity. Whether you support or oppose amendments, your points are valid and must be respected by others.
I, however, would vote no (if I were to vote).
This immediately brings me to my point. The approximately 7.5 million Egyptians living abroad, nearly 60,000 of whom reside in Canada, are excluded from voting for or against the referendum since there are no voting stations set up at Egyptian embassies or consulates, thereby depriving them from their right to enjoy a democratic Egypt. Also, the amendments de-qualify Egyptians with dual nationalities, or ones who are married to Egyptians with dual nationality, or ones whose parents have acquired a nationality other than the Egyptian from holding the office of President, a civil service position.
The concern about Egyptians with dual nationality is understandable and may be valid. However, the response to this concern must not simply be exclusion. Excluding the nearly 7.5 million Egyptians hinders the sense of belonging that a new democratic Egypt desperately needs. Excluding them is a direct way to doubt their loyalty to their country. In fact, if their loyalty is questioned, then the fact that they hold the Egyptian citizenship should be questioned as well, which does not coincide with principles of freedom, democracy and social justice, the key ideals that the January 25 Revolution stood for.
Egyptians abroad are in no way less loyal or less in love with Egypt than any other Egyptian. There is no rule to that. What about the corrupt Egyptians we all know who have lived their lives with behaviors and activities that have only harmed the country disastrously? How can Egyptians abroad be treated as second class citizens, while corrupt Egyptians are still freely roaming the streets of Egypt?
Priorities need to be reorganized and made clear. A constitution must protect the rights of all its constituents, regardless of their present location, religion, race, ancestry, etc.
This is one reason why I will vote no to the proposed amendments.