From January 25 to February 11 I stood shoulder to shoulder with martyrs. I marched hand in hand with people who died for our country. I was not honored with death as they were. But I did honor their deaths. I risked my life along with millions of others day after day and I did not back down until Mubarak backed down. I will not back down until my country sees the light of democracy.
I am Egyptian.
I AM EGYPTIAN.
And I am a very proud Egyptian. I have always been. But I am now more proud than ever. And no one has the right to take that away from me.
It seems, however, that I must now fight for my right to be considered an Egyptian with full rights of citizenship.
Egypt’s constitution is currently under partial review in order to adjust clauses that will allow for fair presidential elections to take place in the country. The whole of the constitution will be reviewed once a fairly elected People’s Assembly is in place. Among other things, the current constitution placed harsh restrictions on eligibility for running for presidency such that it was almost impossible for anyone but Mubarak or someone he or his majority ruling party approved of to run. Current revisions were meant to ease these restrictions to allow for a more open and fair process.
I will only address here the one clause – and its proposed amendment – that affects me personally with millions of others; a clause that will rip away some of my basic fundamental rights as an Egyptian.
The original article 75 of the Egyptian constitution states the following:
“The person to be elected President of the Republic must be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents and enjoy civil and political rights. His age must not be less than 40 Gregorian years.”
The amendment proposed by a committee of experts appointed by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces states the following:
“The person to be elected President of the Republic must be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents and enjoy civil and political rights. He or either of his parents must not have held citizenship in any other country and he must not be married to a non-Egyptian. His age must not be less than 40 Gregorian years.”
The whole concept and definition of citizenship comes into question with this article because of the way it is worded.
I was born Egyptian. My father is Egyptian and this gives me automatic citizenship by birth.
My mother, however, is American. And I was born in the USA, where my father was a university professor for many years. This also gave me automatic US citizenship by birth.
In 1997 I renounced my US citizenship as a political statement against US bombings of Iraq.
I currently hold only one nationality. I am Egyptian.
I am Egyptian by birth. My rights as an Egyptian should be nothing less than full citizenship rights, including the right to run for president. I am not a lesser Egyptian because my mother is not Egyptian. I am not a lesser Egyptian because I was not born on Egyptian soil. The concept of an Egyptian with full rights – including the right to run for presidency – and lesser rights – that do not include the right to run for presidency – is deplorable.
I have a fundamental right to be treated equally with other fellow Egyptians. I have a fundamental right to choose my spouse, regardless of age, creed, ethnicity, color, or nationality. No one should limit that fundamental right.
I should not be discriminated against because I have a parent that is not Egyptian – something I did not choose. I am Egyptian and should be treated equal to all Egyptians.
Do not get me wrong. I have no desire to run for presidency. But even if I do not have this desire, it is no one’s right to take that right away from me.
I have heard several arguments to support the article and its amendment:
“They wrote the article this way to ensure that someone like Gamal Mubarak, who is purported to have UK citizenship in addition to his Egyptian citizenship, cannot run for presidency.”
We fought and people died so that this practice of tailoring constitutions and laws to fit or dispel certain people be abolished. How dare anyone dishonor that by tailoring the constitution – if that is indeed the case – so that one or two people cannot run for presidency? Let Gamal Mubarak run for presidency should he wish to do so. And give the people the option to choose.
“If a person’s parent or spouse is not Egyptian, we cannot be sure with which country their loyalties lie.”
Dare you suggest that someone like former Minister of Interior, Habib Al-Adly, who has Egyptian parents and an Egyptian spouse and who was head of a police force that brutally tortured Egyptians for years and that was responsible for the deaths of more than 365 Egyptians during the January 25 Revolution of Egypt..dare you suggest that he is more loyal an Egyptian than me because my mother is not Egyptian??
Should I or anyone else decide to run for president test our loyalties by looking at our professional careers and our personal character. Let people decide in the voting booths whether we are loyal; whether we are worthy. Do not pre-judge me by words written in a constitution.
“I am not comfortable with someone with dual citizenship residing as president of my country.”
Nor am I! Should an Egyptian with a second nationality decide to run for presidency that person MUST renounce the second citizenship. This SHOULD be a clause in the constitution. The Egyptian president should hold only one citizenship at the time of presidency.
“Egyptians raised abroad or those with a non-Egyptian parent or spouse have been influenced by foreign cultures.”
Who hasn’t these days?? We live in a small global village. We learn from cultures all over the world. That is a GOOD thing. And that does not diminish my Egyptianess in any way. It does not affect my loyalty to my country.
I AM EGYPTIAN.
I am not half-Egyptian. I am not a second tier or a second class Egyptian.
I AM EGYPTIAN.
An Egyptian is an Egyptian and all Egyptians should be treated equally.