Human rights activist Manal El-Teiby withdraws from Constituent Assembly

Ahmed Aboulenein
4 Min Read
Egyptian protesters, including liberal and leftist activists, demonstrate outside Cairo's administrative court in March 2012 (AFP Photo)
Egyptian protesters, including liberal and leftist activists, demonstrate outside Cairo’s administrative court in March 2012 (AFP Photo)

Human rights and Nubian rights activist Manal El-Teiby announced her resignation Thursday from the Constituent Assembly tasked with writing Egypt’s next constitution, citing the actions of the Islamist majority against her.

El-Teiby, who was selected in the Constituent Assembly to represent Nubians, is the assistant rapporteur of the assembly’s Rights and Freedoms Committee.

In a statement announcing her decision, she said she tried to ensure the new constitution would guarantee rights and freedoms for all citizens regardless of the ruling party’s intellectual and ideological beliefs.

“Except that did not sit well with the majority that has a clear ideological basis and dominates the Constituent Assembly,” El-Teiby said.

She added that her suggestions both revealed the direction the majority want to take the constitution in, and their anger towards her suggestions which, according to El-Teiby, led to an organised campaign against her inside the assembly.

The Nubian rights activist had previously caused an incident within the assembly when she objected to restricting freedom of religion in the new constitution to Muslims, Christians and Jews only. It was only her and another member, Coptic Christian priest X, who objected to the article which went on to pass inside the committee.

She also suggested the addition of the phrase “ethnic or racial origin” to the list of things the constitution protects citizens from being discriminated against because of, but her suggestion was rejected by several members of the Salafist Nour Party.

El-Teiby cited a smear campaign against her by assembly members as the main reason for her withdrawal. She said an article about her published on the Al-Ahram website, titled “Is Egypt being divided constitutionally” contained several instances of slander and that a fellow committee member, a female Islamist, printed the article and distributed it to all other members.

She added that the article had been published less than two days after she had an argument with committee members about articles relating to freedoms and rights.

El-Teiby also accused the same female committee member whom she would not name of trying to defame her to her Nubian constituency. She said that ahead of a trip the committee was making to Aswan to discuss rights and freedoms with Nubians, the committee member travelled in advance and told the Nubian residents that El-Teiby was advocating Nubian independence from Egypt in the new constitution, something El-Teiby denies.

She finally said that she had suggested many important articles like the right to health or housing but that they were ignored, rejected, or written by the Islamist majority within the assembly in a way that makes them lose meaning.

With El-Teiby’s withdrawal, the Constituent Assembly loses another member that does not belong to Islamist parties or groups, making the assembly even more unbalanced in its representation of political ideologies and groups.

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Ahmed Aboul Enein is an Egyptian journalist who hates writing about himself in the third person. Follow him on Twitter @aaboulenein
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