Egypt’s constitution unveiled with ‘all Egyptians’ poster depicting westerners
Banner proclaims text represents ‘all Egyptians’ but shows images of models that show up on basic Internet searches
When veteran Egyptian politician Amr Moussa unveiled Egypt’s new draft constitution on Sunday, he did so in front of a vast banner that proclaimed the text represented “all Egyptians”. Unfortunately for Moussa, three of the five models used to depict “all Egyptians” on the banner turned out to be westerners.
Google searches quickly revealed that the photograph of the banner’s single featured woman had previously appeared in publicity for an Irish recruiting firm. A man with Down’s syndrome – a nod to the new charter’s provisions for people with disabilities – can also be found on at least two US websites. The banner’s brown-haired doctor appears an English-language medical website – and all five emerge within the first few results dredged up by basic internet image searches.
Worst of all, only one of the five was a woman, awkward for a constitution that Moussa stressed would provide gender equality, and even she was not wearing a veil. The vast majority of Egyptian women wear the hijab.
The revelations were seen as ironic, given the way that the constitution-drafting process has been criticised for sidelining Islamist voices from the drafting committee, and supporters of overthrown president Mohamed Morsi in particular.
On Sunday Moussa, who headed the committee, praised the draft constitution for giving unprecedented rights to disabled people and women, for promoting decentralisation, and for removing religiously conservative clauses present in a constitution drafted under Morsi last year. But critics have said it is still weak on upholding civil liberties, condemning its lack of provision for workers’ rights, and the permission it gives the army to try civilians in military courts.
It was finally confirmed over the weekend that a referendum on the charter will take place in two stages on 14-15 January 2014 – and is Egypt’s first election since the removal of Morsi in July. For Egypt’s new government, a high-turnout and a large yes-vote are seen as integral to proving the strength of public support for Morsi’s overthrow.
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