After the Last Judgment

The ancient Egyptian Goddess Maat, who represented truth and justice, carried with her the Feather of Truth. In the last judgment, the feather was used to weigh the hearts of the deceased. If their hearts weighed less than the feather they would pass the first test in their journey to the afterlife. If their hearts weighed more, then they had no hope of continuing on into the afterlife. [1]

I.       Introduction
On February 11, 2011, Vice President of Egypt Omar Suleiman announced on state television that President Hosni Mubarak had resigned from the office of president.[2] After only eighteen days of mostly peaceful protests, Egyptians surprised themselves and the world by removing one of the longest-living and most brutal dictators in the Arab world.[3] The pharaoh had been judged and found wanting. Few people had expected the demonstrations that started on January 25, 2011 would result in Mubarak’s resignation[4] or influence other demonstrations throughout the region.[5]

Almost immediately after Mubarak’s removal, there were calls by various human rights groups and non-governmental organizations to implement large-scale reforms in Egypt that would guarantee Egyptians’ liberties and freedoms. This article will focus on one subset of the reforms being advocated—amending the Egyptian Constitution. Full discussion of this complex topic would require book-length treatment. This article initiates the discussion by highlighting a few key issues. We begin by providing a brief overview of the Egyptian Constitution. We then discuss some of the main amendments that the Egyptian Constitutional Amendment Committee proposed and that were recently adopted by public referendum. Finally, we recommend a few other amendments that Egypt should consider after parliamentary elections take place.

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[1] See Miriam Lichtheim, 2 Ancient Egyptian Literature: New Kingdom (2006).

[2] Chris McGreal & Jack Shenker, Hosni Mubarak Resigns—and Egypt Celebrates a New Dawn, guardian.co.uk, Feb. 11, 2011, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/11/hosni-mubarak-resigns-egypt-cairo.

[3] Sultan Al Qassemi, Op-Ed., Gulf States Must Repay Egypt Favour, Al Jazeera, Feb. 17, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/2011214151229281695.html.

[4] Id.

[5] See, e.g., Amran Abocar, Analysis: Saudi Arabia, Jolted by Egypt, Now Alarmed by Bahrain, Reuters, Feb. 17, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/17/us-bahrain-saudi-idUSTRE71G4JJ20110217; Ian Black, Muammar Gaddafi Lashes Out as Power Slips Away, guardian.co.uk, Feb. 21, 2011, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/21/libya-protests-bloodiest-yet-gaddafi; Djiboutians Want President Out: Protests’ Shockwave Hits Syria and Djibouti, Al Arabiya News Channel, Feb. 18, 2011, http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/02/18/138195.html.