13th Malaysia’s Election


 

1.  Today, our Prime minister, YAB Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak have announced  that Parliament have been dissolved effective immediately. So, we wait for few week for election to replace or maintain our government.

2. This election shall be the toughest election in Malaysian history. This election are expected to be a turning point to many Malaysian. The election that everyone can not predict and forecast.

3.  From the eye of Muslim Malays, the main clash are between Islamist Party (PAS) and Malays Party (UMNO).

4.  UMNO, a current government’s party have contribute a lot in term of religion, races and development and have put Malaysia as one of great nation in South East Asia. The current problem is they are lacking of great leader, spoil branch leader and too much bribery.

5. PAS, country’s main opposition were a strong opposition with good track record. They have govern state of Kelantan for more than 20 years. In last election, they have govern another state, Kedah for 1 term.

6. As both party were inherit a similar trait – Malays and Islam. The main theme for this election shall be a clash between ideology, fundamental, philosophy, foundation and the most important – leadership.

Who will govern country’s government or state’s government in next 5 years?

Sept 1981 – The Dawn Raid


A modern world story of David and Goliath

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By Leela Barrock

There is something about Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd that strikes a cord with the underdog — though it is not quite clear why. Guthrie was, after all, never an underdog, it was instead, once upon a time, a market favourite. Neither was Guthrie ever a small player, it was always big. And Guthrie was always within the sights of the powers-that-be as a favoured son with great things intended for it.

But on the eve of its erasure from listed territory into the annals of history, it feels like Guthrie has played a valiant Daniel, but lost to a Lion with sharper teeth and a bigger balance sheet. Strangely, it now also feels like Guthrie was the little engine that could — but then again nobody could call it little and, Guthrie has proved many times that it couldn’t. And it seems to have the wounded feel of a Grand Olde Dame replaced by a buxom starlet — but though Guthrie was once a stock market darling, there are very good reasons why the market fell out of love with it and sought others.

So what is it about Guthrie that makes us feel like we are saying goodbye to an era, an epoch maybe, more than a company incorporated for profit?

The Guthrie story started almost 200 years ago, in 1821, when a Scotsman called Alexander Guthrie founded and lent his name to the company, Guthrie & Co.

Alexander Guthrie landed in Singapore from the Cape of Good Hope and established the Guthrie agency house, the first British trading company in Southeast Asia, granted a licence by the British East India Company. Guthrie was among the first to extend two-way trade between Europe and Southeast Asia. Imports then included cloth, brandy and sherry while exports included spices, minerals and raw rubber. And there was set the foundations for Guthrie to become one of the largest import/export and rubber-producing businesses.

In 1896, Guthrie took root in Malaya with rubber cultivation, as one of the pioneers who brought the Amazonian native here. Even as rubber cultivation took off in a big way, another foreigner, this time the oil palm, was brought over to the British colonies. Guthrie introduced oil palm to Malaya in 1924.

The company grew from strength to strength and, in 1965, was listed on the London Stock Exchange as Guthrie Corp Ltd.

In post-1969 Malaysia, the government embarked on a massive affirmative action policy aimed at eradicating poverty and reducing social inequity. This wave of post-independence pro-Malay paternalism also saw an increasing awareness of what were essentially Malaysian assets but owned and run by westerners.

In 1978, national unit trust agency Permodalan Nasional Bhd was set up. A year later, another government agency, Pernas, undertook the first dawn raid to bring home Sime Darby Bhd.

Two years later, it was Guthrie’s turn. This time it was a move from PNB, then headed by Tun Ismail Ali, aided rather ably by a young analyst called Khalid Ibrahim (now Tan Sri).

The Dawn Raid story as Khalid told The Edge:

“The toughest thing you have to do when you decide to raid is to pick the right stockbroker. We chose Rowe & Pitman. They had to have at least 30 or 40 of their staff at the time we were going to market, call all the prospective sellers of Guthrie shares to secure their acceptance.”

The worry at the time was that if the news leaked, Guthrie’s share price would have gone up. It had been decided that the offer price would be £2. “So, our challenge was not to tell these people anything.”

It took Khalid and his team four months to get everything in place.

On Sept 7 1981, 4pm Malaysian time or 9am London time, the raid began.

Under London’s rules, a raider was given 30 minutes to acquire 5% of its target’s shares and then make the relevant announcement. The faster the 5% is secured, the better.

“While we were acquiring the 5% in London, Tun and I were here. On Sept 7, Tun flew to Singapore to secure a block held by OCBC,” Khalid says.

There was no tacit agreement with the Singaporeans unlike with other friendly shareholders.

“In order for Tun to broach the subject with the OCBC owners, he had to wait till 3.30pm. We timed it. By 3.45pm, he had to get their acceptance, then make the call (to Rowe & Pittman). By 3.45, we had to tell the brokers that these are the people, these are the prices, so execute. So, Tun had a late lunch!”

Meanwhile, Khalid stayed behind in Kuala Lumpur to secure the stakes from other identified “friendly” shareholders. “I got confirmation from Bank Simpanan Nasional, Genting group… And also I had to get confirmation from Kuwait.”

Kuwait came in readily, so did the other Malaysian parties. But there was a hiccup.

“I was stationed at the MIDF building. Bank Simpanan was at Jalan Ampang. They were supposed to bring the acceptance (notice) to me at MIDF but… you know what happened? There was a traffic jam!”

Khalid needed the acceptance from Bank Simpanan by 3pm but could not leave MIDF because he was needed by the phone. “You know what Tun did? He told Aziz Taha (then governor of BNM), you get out of Bank Negara and you get it and go to Khalid! And Aziz Taha did!”

Once the acceptance was in, Khalid had about 30% acceptance in his hand.

Meanwhile, Rothschild had secured the support of other British shareholders.

“Then we said, GO! The market came in and we announced that we had 45%. And we said, we are proceeding.”

Tun Ismail was unable to secure OCBC’s support.

“Tun called me and asked, ‘Khalid, how have you done?’. I said, ‘I have already executed. There is no turning back’.”

By the end of the trading day, PNB had secured 47% of Guthrie. In less than a week, they had 51%, and within three months had taken over the whole company.

Once Guthrie was brought back, the other foreign-owned plantations fell in line. Harrisons & Crossfields negotiated to sell the Malaysian assets to PNB two years after the raid on Guthrie and Golden Hope Plantations Bhd was born (see next story).

For Khalid however, there was another coup waiting. “When we got Guthrie back, we did the housekeeping and sold the British business back. And we got more than what we invested. This was two years later. So, we literally got Guthrie for free.”

After the Raid

After the raid, Guthrie went through a reorganisation and expansion exercise that saw it increasing its land bank. Guthrie was listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now renamed Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad) on Aug 25, 1989, following an offer for sale by PNB of 100 million ordinary shares of RM1 each, representing 10% of the issued and paid-up share capital of the company. The offer price was RM2.10 per share.

The reorganising continued and in 1994, Guthrie was neatly divided into plantations and property businesses. That was the year Guthrie started selling bungalow lots in Bukit Jelutong. And that was the year Khalid left PNB to helm Guthrie.

Khalid was offered an option to take up 5% of Guthrie, or 50 million shares, at RM2.50 per share. The market price for Guthrie shares was then RM2.96. He was given a further option to take up another 15% in Guthrie within three years. He was appointed Guthrie’s group chief executive, after stepping down as PNB CEO, a position he took for “sentimental and professional reasons”, as he told pressmen then.

It was openly discussed then that Khalid would eventually lead an MBO of Guthrie and nobody doubted for a moment that he would. He never did though. Perhaps Khalid was distracted by his expansion strategy — into Indonesia just as the crisis ended and the country was shedding its military dictator-past.

In 1999, Guthrie announced that it was buying 234,000ha of plantation land in Indonesia for RM1.38 billion. While crude palm oil prices were riding high in 1999, the market knew that the good times had rolled long enough and that a decline in the CPO cycle was imminent. The deal was signed in 2000, but by Feb 16, 2001, CPO prices fell to a low of RM662.50 per tonne. That year, Guthrie issued RM1.5 billion worth of US dollar-denominated sukuk bonds to finance the deal.

(This all transpired before the advent of biodiesel when non-traditional uses for palm oil had not yet been conceived.) Worse, at the time, Indonesia was tottering under the weight of political and economic strife.

It appears that it was not just Khalid’s timing that was suspect. Lore from the ground says that Khalid was not given an honest picture of just what he was buying and thus Guthrie paid too much for the estates.

Guthrie then put a brave face on things and the official stand was, it hoped to concentrate its plantations activities in Indonesia, where cost is lower, and sell off some of its Malaysian operations.

Saddled with the Indonesian debts and far from sterling operations in Malaysia, Guthrie fell from grace fast and hard. Analysts ceased coverage of the stock, fund managers removed it from their radar.

Khalid worked hard behind the scenes, along with a group of staff who remain loyal to him to this day. By 2001, word had spread that the government was looking at removing Khalid.

He hung on and came up with plans on how to turn the operations around. But in late 2003, Khalid learnt that his board had decided not to renew his contract. And there ended an era.

Khalid was replaced by Datuk Abdul Wahab Maskan in January 2004, an old PNB stalwart who had headed another PNB company, Golden Hope Plantations Bhd. Wahab was tasked with turning the company around operationally, dealing with the debt burden and renewing Guthrie’s relationship with the investment community.

It did not look like he was getting very far when, after a briefing last year, analysts and fund managers came away unimpressed.

But it was fairly obvious that something was brewing within the PNB stable as Guthrie’s share price became surprisingly buoyant and remained so for months. There was talk of reorganising the PNB stable and Guthrie was definitely fingered for a possible seismic shift of some sort. By then Indonesia was doing a whole lot better than it had right after the acquisition — but it was still performing short of expectations.

In November 2006, Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd made its offer to acquire all the assets and liabilities of Guthrie and its subsidiaries. Synergy Drive was also going to buy up Sime Darby group’s and Golden Hope’s assets and liabilities as well.

For those who had followed the Guthrie saga over the years, the news was not unexpected. It, however, took time before realisation seeped in that this old planter would soon be relinquished to the history books.

Guthrie had become, for a time, the symbol of Malaysian determination to own its own assets even if it required raiding a foreign stock exchange. It represented the hopes and aspirations of a young nation. It stood for something more than what it was — as did the man who helmed Guthrie for nine years. For 186 years, Guthrie was part of the Malaysia story, and for nine of them, Khalid was its face.

Last Wednesday, Guthrie was traded for the last time on Bursa Malaysia. It closed at RM7.10.

The history of Vatican


A resignation of Pope Benedict have ignite my curiosity about Catholic Churches.

Vatican

Though the Vatican is a famous icon for Christianity, its name existed long before the advent of the religion. The name was first given to one of the hills on the side of the Tiber River, which is opposite to the Seven Hills of Rome.  

The city of the Vatican is a sovereign city-state located entirely within the boundaries of Rome. It is believed to be situated on the spot where St. Peter, a prominent figure in the history of Christianity, was martyred and buried around 2000 years ago. In 324 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine, built the first papal church called the Constantinian Basilica over St. Peter’s tomb.

Till recently, St. Peter’s was the largest church that was ever built and is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Christendom.   The Vatican City expands over around 0.44 square kilometers and with a population of around 800 people, which makes it the smallest independent country in the world.

The Vatican territory includes important sites, such as St. Peter’s Square built between 1656 and 1667, the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the Pope, the Sistine Chapel, which is very famous for its architecture that resembles King Solomon’s Temple in the Old Testament and was decorated by talented renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Raphael.

The “Voluntary Prisoner”

The Vatican City, which is the home of the Roman Catholic Church, is the only city that survived from the Papal States, which had been ruled for over a thousand years by religious papacy. The idea behind papal independence was to assure the complete freedom of the pope away from Roman princes and emperors. 

Pope who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide is considered for Catholics as St. Peter’s successor. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ named Peter as the “shepherd” or the “rock” of the church. Though Peter was never named a pope as the title came into existence much later, for Catholics he is considered to be the “first pope.” The analogy comes from the fact that the pope is the head of bishops as was Peter the head of apostles.

The pope had territorial control over some states in central Italy between the years 756 and 1870, and the Vatican was the capital of the Papal States. During the fights for the unification of Italy from 1860 to 1870, Italy gained back a lot of the papal territories, and Rome was established as the national capital of Italy. When the Italian armies were at the gate of Rome on the morning of September 20, 1870, Pope Pius IX was facing a hard choice. He ordered his soldiers neither to fight nor to resist the Italian forces as he realized that it was a lost war, and he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

Pope Pius IX did not want to surrender the city before it was attacked, as he was afraid that the world would recognize this act as a voluntary act of renunciation of his rights. He wanted to make it clear that he was forced to give up his temporal power, and that his sovereignty was breached by force.

In 1871, a law was issued to confine the territories of the papacy to only include the Vatican, the Lateran Palace, and the villa of Castel Gandolfo on the shore of Lake Albano. The government also granted the Pontiff a handsome amount of money as compensation for the lost revenue over seized territories. Though Pope Pius IX was adamant on revoking the law and constantly refused to abide by it, the Italian government thought they were extremely generous toward “Italy’s distinguished guests.”   Pope Pius IX refused to accept the government’s grant of money, and declared that this agreement was unilateral and did not represent the consensus of the two parties, so it should be considered null and void. He maintained his position of refusing to recognize the lawful and the rightful possession of Rome by the Italian government and refused to set foot on the soil of the seized territory, as this would mean that he accepted the Italian sovereignty.

Therefore, the pope declared himself as a “voluntary prisoner” in his Vatican Palace, yet he continued his duties and temporal power in a symbolic way.

Mussolini & the “Roman Question”

One of the proposals that were offered to Pope Benedict XV to solve the heated situation was to grant the pope full and unrestricted sovereignty over the Vatican, but the pope said that the Vatican is a palace not a territory. For the papal palace, it seemed absurd to grant the pope full sovereignty, yet he cannot exercise it anywhere. 

Long before Mussolini came to power as the head of the Fascist Party, he used to speak publicly about the importance of restoring the relationship with the Catholic Church. He asserted in Parliament that it is absurd for Italy to be in enmity with a church that 95 percent of its citizens were regarded as divinely authorized.

So, right after he seized power, Mussolini did not hesitate to state at every occasion how important the Papal Church is, and how appreciative he is to the role that religion plays in the national life. His determination to restore good relations with the pope did not stop at the level of positive speeches and words of appreciation. He actually walked the talk by restoring the crucifix in the classrooms, which was long removed by previous governments. Also, he made it mandatory in the curriculum in public schools to study religion after it was only supplementary. He also increased the allowance and the stipend paid by government to the parish priests.

While Mussolini promised not to interfere with the religious practices of other cults or religions, he declared and affirmed Catholicism to be the national faith of Italy.

Though Mussolini showed signs of good faith to reach some sort of reconciliation with the Holy See, the road was not paved, and it was not an easy ride. The greatest difficulty that faced the new Fascist government was the question of the position of the Vatican within the new Italian state and the division of authority.

It is well-known that both the Fascist government and the Vatican are at opposite poles. The pope stated numerously his dissatisfaction with the Fascist ideology of monopolizing the individuals by making their whole existence for the benefit of the state. The Church believes on the other hand that the individual exists for the glory of God.

For the next three years, Mussolini was negotiating secretly with the Vatican, and then he announced that there is an informal understanding that was reached between the state and the Vatican on points of dispute. Mussolini used to call the Vatican situation as the “Roman Question.”

The Missions of the Holy See

The Holy See was the name given to the government of the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy See diplomatic history began long before its independence. Since the medieval times, the Episcopal Church of Rome is considered to be an independent sovereign entity. Even when Italy took most of the Papal States in 1870, the Holy See maintained sending and receiving diplomatic missions.

In 1929, a political treaty was signed between the Holy See and Italy, according to which full sovereignty was granted to the Holy See in the Vatican City.

The Italian government had its own ulterior motives when it decided to solve the Roman question once and for all. Millions of Catholics around the globe will not be educated anymore by their priests that Italy is a “despoiler of the church.”

Missionary schools in the Near East might place extra importance on teaching Italian as an important language along with its history and literature. More importantly as some historians state, the political benefits of being the protector of Christianity in places like Syria and Palestine, which is a political advantage that France enjoyed, and now Italy can join in as well.   Though the pope’s liberty and independence are confined to such small piece of land in the Vatican, for the Catholics, his spiritual leadership in the Catholic World is universal with no boundaries set to confine it.

Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat : Photo Gallery


11 January 2013-  Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat or self translate “Rise of People Assembly” have being held peacefully in Stadium Merdeka, Malaysia. The rally went on smoothly and peacefully with police maintaining a minimal but effective presence to ensure safety and order. The participant come in various NGO organization, political affiliate and all races.

Congratulation to police, sponsor, management team and especially participant that ensure the rally run peacefully. Hope this rally will be an example to world that peaceful rally can be done successfully.

Congratulation again, Malaysian.

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More story : http://www.malaysiandigest.com/top-news/222721-kl112-live-update.html

We Will Not Go Down (Gaza Tonight) – Micheal Heart


WE WILL NOT GO DOWN (Song for Gaza)
(Composed by Michael Heart)

A blinding flash of white light
Lit up the sky over Gaza tonight
People running for cover
Not knowing whether they’re dead or alive

They came with their tanks and their planes
With ravaging fiery flames
And nothing remains
Just a voice rising up in the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Women and children alike
Murdered and massacred night after night
While the so-called leaders of countries afar
Debated on who’s wrong or right

But their powerless words were in vain
And the bombs fell down like acid rain
But through the tears and the blood and the pain
You can still hear that voice through the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Woman Right in Egypt Constitution


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Women’s rights in Egypt’s draft constitution—that Egyptians will vote for or against in a public referendum in December 15—is one of the most debated issues among supports and opponents of the constitution. Opponents of the draft constitution argue that it undermines women’s basic rights and freedoms. Its supporters, on the other hand, claim that it protects women’s rights, respect, and equality.

In a recent article, I have studied “Minorities and Freedoms in Egypt’s Draft Constitution”.  I believe that hot issues such as women, human respect, justice, citizenship, etc., deserve in-depth studies and readings in order to fairly evaluate the controversial draft that prompted widespread protests across Egypt. It is not fair, of course, to judge something without having a clear perception of it. So, I would cite and study some articles that focus on women’s rights and position in Egypt’s draft constitution to pave the way for better understanding of it.

Honor and Respect

Women, like men, have the full right for honor and respect. All world religions and conventions agree on this principle. In the introductory section, which outlines the basic concepts and principles of the draft constitution, it is stated:

The individual’s dignity is an extension of the nation’s dignity. Further, there is no dignity for a country in which women are not honored; women are the sisters of men and partners in all national gains and responsibilities.

This principle in Egypt’s draft constitution does protect women’s honor and dignity. The above-mentioned maxim “there is no dignity for a country in which women are not honored” clearly assures the State’s and the society’s duties in preserving women’s honor and respect. It is illegal and a punishable crime—by virtue of the above principle—to disgrace or underestimate women in Egypt. Women, moreover, are men’s counterparts and partners who share national gains and responsibilities.

Interestingly, these values and rights of women are well-established in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said in a hadith, “Women are men’s counterparts.” (Abu Dawud, Sunan, hadith no. 236)

A woman in the Muslim society enjoys high respect and honor by merits of religious, social, cultural, and legal norms. The noble Qur’an commands husbands to deal honorably and kindly with their wives, saying, {And live with them (your wives) honorably.} (An-Nisa’ 4: 19) Therefore, a woman—whether a baby, girl, sister, wife, mother, etc.—should be greatly respected and honored.

Equality

Equality for all citizens—men and women–in Egypt is assured and maintained throughout the draft constitution. Women, therefore, enjoy as equal rights as men. It is clearly stated at the very beginning of the draft constitution that “equality before the law and equal opportunities for all citizens, men and women, without discrimination or favoritism” are guaranteed.

In fact, both women and men are equal in Islam. So, Islamic Shari`ah never discriminates between people, men and women. This fact is clear in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). For instance, the noble Qur’an unequivocally emphasizes that men and women are equal: {O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.} (Al-Hujurat 49: 13)

In his well-reputed book, Islam in Focus, Hammudah Abdalati Abd Alati says,

The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find two identical men or women.

This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights – but not identical – shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.

Support for Working, Divorced, and Widowed Women

Egypt’s draft constitution guarantees full support for working, divorced, and widowed women. The State, therefore, will maintain social and financial support for women in a way that preserves their life, honor, dignity, and wellbeing. Article No. 10 reads:

The State shall ensure maternal and child health services free of charge, and enable the reconciliation between the duties of a woman towards her family and her work.

The State shall provide special care and protection to female breadwinners, divorced women and widows.

Given the above, decent and honorable life for women, like all citizens, will be maintained and promoted by the constitution. This way, the Egyptian society, with its various cultures and faith communities, could enjoy social justice and solidarity. Women and men, whether young or aged, will have equal rights to their country’s public resources and properties.

In conclusion, I see that Egypt’s draft constitution has many points that deserve study and reading. Women’s rights are generally promoted in a way that preserves their dignity, honor, and equality with men. Moreover, Egyptian women, as well as men, have the opportunity to shape their future and freely vote for or against the draft constitution. This manifests women’s real participation in the political and social life in life in Egypt.

Dr. Wael Shihab has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and is the Head of the Shari`ah and Fatwa sections at the English web site of Onislam.net.  You may reach him at this e-mail address: wael.shihab@onislam.net.

Minorities and Freedoms in Egypt Constitution


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On Saturday, December 1, Egypt President Morsi called all citizens, in and outside Egypt, for a public referendum on the new draft constitution, to be held on 15 December.

The draft constitution, coming in the wake of tensions that followed the decree issued by President Morsi, granting him sweeping powers, has also prompted widespread protests across the country. 

In my opinion, I believe that the draft constitution will, if Egyptians vote in its favor, defend minorities’ rights, responsible freedoms, human respect, and justice. Giving it a fair look, and comparing it to the previous constitutions, I see it paying attention to establishing equality among all citizens irrespective of their faith, cultures, or sects. It affirms social solidarity and supports community morals and values. It respects human values and people dignity.

In the following lines, I will further elaborate on my point by providing some citations from the draft that focus on religious rights of faith communities and basic freedoms. My objective is to present to the readers how I see the Egypt’s draft constitution—one of the products of the peaceful popular January 25th revolution—trying to set a new Egypt on the principles of citizenship, equality, justice, respect, and social solidarity.

Defending Minorities’ Religious Rights

The third article of the Egyptian draft constitution maintains religious communities’ rights to apply their own religious principles in their personal status laws and devotional affairs:

The religious principles of Egyptian Christians and Jews are the main source of legislation for their personal status laws, religious affairs, and the selection of their spiritual leaders.

Many writers used to claim that Egypt’s Islamists—who gained majority in last parliamentary elections—deny rights of religious monitories to apply their own religious rules and rituals. This claim is proved to be groundless by virtue of the above article and many other articles that assure freedom of worship and protection of places for worship for all Egyptians: Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Article 43 states:

Freedom of belief is an inviolable right. The State shall guarantee the freedom to practice religious rites and to establish places of worship for the divine religions, as regulated by law.

The above values that defend religious minorities’ rights are compatible with Islamic and world conventions and laws. It is baseless then for anybody to claim that moderate Muslims—like Egyptians—don’t support religious freedoms and tolerance.

Maintaining Universal Values of Citizenship

Interestingly, Egypt’s draft constitution upholds universal values of citizenship such as equality, respect, and dignity for all citizens irrespective of their faith, cultures, or social classes. In the introductory section that outlines the basic concepts and principles of the draft constitution, it is affirmed that “equality before the law and equal opportunities for all citizens, men and women, without discrimination or favoritism” are guaranteed.

In article 6, the draft constitution assures:

The political system is based on the principles of democracy, shura (mutual consultation), and citizenship values, under which all citizens are equal in rights and duties. … No political party shall be formed that discriminates on the basis of gender, origin, or religion.

Throughout the draft constitution, universal values of citizenship are maintained. This, of course, reflects moderate understating of Islam and its human values.

In a “Muslim state”, all citizens enjoy equal rights and bear same responsibilities. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) and his Companions established good relations with other faith communities living in Madinah, the first Islamic state. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) prepared a mithaq (a covenant or a constitution) for organizing good relations between these communities. The covenant of Madinah laid down broad principles on which cordial relations would be established between Muslims and non-Muslims. Protection of life and property, and freedom of thought and of worship were guaranteed. Among the principles of the covenant are:

“The Jews and the Muslims, . . . each group must support the other against anyone who fights the people of this document (covenant of Madinah). Their relationship shall be one of mutual advice and consultation, and mutual assistance and charity rather than harm and aggression . . . Charity and goodness are clearly distinguishable from crime and injury, and there is no responsibility except for one’s own deeds. God is the guarantor of the truth and good will of this covenant. This covenant shall constitute no protection for the unjust or criminal.” (See Sirat Ibn Hisham, pp. 110-111)

Freedoms Guaranteed

Egypt’s draft constitution protects freedoms that serve individuals’ and the society’s benefits. In the introductory section of the draft constitution, we read:

Freedom is a well-established right. The freedom of citizens shall be upheld in all aspects of life; freedom of opinion, expression and creativity; and freedom in housing, property and travel, out of full belief in such freedom as a divine principle laid down by the Creator in the motion of the universe. God has created humans free. … So, the rights and freedoms of all citizens shall be protected without discrimination.

According to the draft constitution, freedoms of ALL citizens are protected by the law. Moreover, freedoms guaranteed should not pose dangers to citizens’ lives, properties, or morals. So, it is a “responsible and ethical” freedom that is compatible with people’s beliefs, cultures, and public and private benefits.  The following articles, for example, prove that the draft constitution promotes freedoms that preserve people’s private and public benefits:

Article 8: The State guarantees the means to achieve justice, equality and freedom, and is committed to facilitating the channels of social charity and solidarity between the members of society, ensuring the protection of persons, honor, and properties, and working toward providing decent life and sustenance for all citizens; all within the context of the law.

Article 9: The State shall ensure safety, security, and equal opportunities for all citizens without discrimination.

Article 11: The State shall safeguard ethics, public morality and public order, and foster a high level of education and of religious and patriotic values, scientific thinking, Arab culture, and the historical and cultural heritage of the people; all as shall be regulated by law.

In Islam, freedom—including religious freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of action, media freedom, personal freedom, etc.—is supported by a countless number of general and detailed proofs of Shari`ah. For example, the Qur’an emphasizes religious freedom saying, {There is no compulsion in religion} (Al-Baqarah 2: 256) Ethical responsible freedom, which Islam generally supports, is bounded by the general ethics and guidelines of people’s faiths, morals, and values. So, it is not acceptable, for example, to approve insulting or attacking holy books, prophets, or religions under the pretext of freedom of expression or liberties. Also, it is not acceptable to justify harming people or risking public interest of communities for “irresponsible fake freedom” of some individuals.

To conclude, Egypt’s draft constitution supports rights of faith communities without any discrimination between minorities and the majority.  Universal citizenship values are maintained for all.  Freedoms that promote people’s public and private benefits are guaranteed. Therefore, I call on all fair people of the world to read the draft constitution that Egyptians will vote for or against within few days in order to share Egyptians their dreams for a better future.

Dr. Wael Shihab has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and is the Head of the Shari`ah and Fatwa sections at the English web site of Onislam.net.  You may reach him at this e-mail address: wael.shihab@onislam.net.