2013 / 7 / 28
The Civil Society: Definition Trial
What taints the definition of civil society is that it is difficult to find a sententious definition, as it is a concept same like other social sciences concepts generally and the political sciences specifically which is difficult for us to find a sententious definition from them. Concepts change according to their geographic area, their emergence history and what taint them of problems expressed at the time of their emergence.
It is also related to the specific historical social environment which it emerged in-;- it is said that the concept is the son of history and idea, as concepts do not come out from a logical derivation reality´-or-a reasoning, but they emerge in relation to the social struggle´-or-by the strategic usage of them.
This begs the question: What is the Civil Society?
When we utter the word “civil society”, it come in our minds that this concept means a society separate from religion´-or-secular society, also we can think it is a non-military society and does not have a relation with the militant institutions. Besides, we think it is separate from the political life, the state and its bodies’ policies.
But this view, is considered derogative in general as it does not expand to the study of the concept and the search in its core. These believes make us tend to say that this society is a special self-isolated one which has its own rules and its own social contract, which is not true and may be this perception and concept of the civil society was patterning the intellect of the early 18th century.
On the other hand, there are many who define civil society by a group of political, economic, social and cultural, etc institutions which work in their different societies in relative separation from the state’s institutions at the aim and for many reasons including the following:
Cultural purposes: like the writers -union-s and the different cultural institutions, such as House of Wisdom in Egypt.
Social purposes: Which help the contribution to social development works.
Political purposes: such as participation in the process of internal decision making, including the political parties.
-union-ist purposes: represented in the role of -union-s in defending their members and their rights.
Thus, we find here that the civil society includes some elements which are:
First Element: Volunteerism:
This is the characteristic that distinguishes the civil society from the different formations that exist in the society and resemble it in the specialization. The basis of civil society’s work is volunteerism.
Second Element: Institutionalism:
This characteristic is considered to be the feature of any organization´-or-civilized societal formation, as institutionalism is one of the civilian societies’ features in the different political, social, economic´-or-cultural aspects of life. However, it is note worthy that the Arab societies, although seem to be institutional societies in its form, lacks in fact the institutionalism that based on liberal contract relation under the law.
Third Element: The Purpose and -function-:
This is represented on what the institutions and the major organizations established for and on, and this to guarantee their independence from the tyranny of the authority.
Fourth Element: The View to the Civil Society:
The civil society institutions´-or-the concept of the civil society should be viewed as a part of a group of concepts including citizenship, human rights, and the political, constitutional, individual, democratic and civil, etc participation.
On the other hand, some tend to define the civil society by mentioning a collection of -function-s it does and they restricted it in the following -function-s:
1- The -function- of trying to achieve group interests.
2- The -function- of intervention to resolve conflicts.
3- The working on increasing the wealth and improving the social conditions.
4- The working on producing new leaderships in the society.
5- The working on publicizing the culture of democracy and spreading it among the citizens.
In general, we cannot speak about the concept of civil society without tackling some concepts which researchers call the intellectual triangle, and cannot be separated from each other. The sides of this triangle are:
First Side: Human Rights:
Which are the rights related to humans’ existence and which allow them to live humanely and acquire their rights and different freedoms they entitled to them by just being humans.
Second Side: Democracy:
The definitions of democracy abounded and there is no sententious definition for it, these definitions include the following:
Robert Dahl defines it by “an unmatchable process for binding collective decision making ”, it is also, as George Trabolsy defines it, “a group of practices and work methods, to manage the social conflicts under legitimate institutions that guarantee peaceful alternation of power and ensure rational solving of the emergent problems”
Third Side: The Civil Society:
Which is a group of institutions resembles the state’s official institutions-;- it works independently from the official authority, in the different aspects of the political, economic, social´-or-cultural, etc life.
The Emergence and the Historic Evolution of the Civil Society in Egypt:
To tackle the civil society associations in Egypt, we should study them with regard to the immergence in more than one stage as follows:
Emergence Stage from 1821 to 1952:
Civil society associations are not new to the Egyptian society, as the first civil association in Egypt was established in 1821 which is the Greek Association in Alexandria, then it was followed by several cultural associations in the 50th including the Association of Egypt’s Institute for Egyptian Civilization Research established in 1859, then ElMaaref Association and afterwards several associations were established on religious basis like the Islamic Charity Association established in 1878 and Al Masay Charity Coptic Association established in 1881. Those associations had an important role as they were a forum for many intellectuals and a place to magnetize intellectuals who are back from missions abroad-;- they had an important role also in fighting the British colonialism which led to a conflict between the authority and those associations, and the shutting down of some of them such as Progress Lovers Association and Convention of Progress Association for disseminating the culture of freedom and brotherhood.
However, it is worth mentioning that 1919 revolution played an important role in the rise of the civil associations and the spread of their role in Egypt and that was because of the development of the political, social and cultural life and the increase of the social and political awareness. After the constitution was issued in 1923, it helped the establishment of more civil associations because it ensured several rights and freedoms, including the most important freedom and right of forming associations and it stipulated that the authority of dissolving them would be in the hands of only the judicial, and this according to Law no. 54-80 of the civil law which gave the authority of abolishing the resolutions and dissolving the associations to the judicial, the thing that helped in more freedom for the civil work organizations which increased their dissemination during that period until 1945. May be there is another explanation for the dissemination of civil work associations and the increase of their activity during that period, which is that the state was busy with military and security works that made the associations of civil work take the responsibility of trying to relief the displaced and the injured and wars victims-;- besides that social role there was a cultural role for those associations as they were concerned during that period with the identity of the Egyptian personality, whether it is Islamic, Arab, Pharaonic´-or-Mediterranean.
Stage of July Coup from 1952 to 1970 “Civil Society Relapse”:
As usual, the first thing any new authority´-or-regime, in the Arab countries, think of is tending to eradicate all its opposing powers which may cause a threat to its power, and this what exactly happened in the wake of July Coup, as the Revolutionary Command Council worked on eliminating the opposition, imposing censorship on newspaper and shackling the freedom of press. Moreover, there had been a conflict between it and one of the civil society organizations which is the Labor Movement in Kafr ElDawwar in August 1952 as more than 10,000 workers of the Spinning and Weaving Factory held a strike demanding to keep away the authoritative from the company, move the workers -union- within the factory and conduct free and fair elections for this -union-, which was an ensured right according to the slogans of the Revolutionary Command Council. However, reality proved that those were no more than slogans as the way the Revolutionary Command Council dealt proved the first conflict between itself and the societal powers, as they considered that strike to be a communist conspiracy which led to the execution and detention of many of the strike leaders and the command council explained the situation that to encourage the foreign and Egyptian capital the labor struggle should be terminated.
This was followed, in 1953, by more diminution to the civil society organizations as on January 16, 1953 the decree of dissolving the political parties was issued by the Egyptian President Gamal AbdelNasser, then followed in 1955 a decree of dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood group and establishing one political organization developed from being an editorial board then a national -union- to a socialist -union-.
Then followed more resolutions of the diminution of civil society groups as the activity of the Women -union- and the -union- of Nile Girls was suspended, furthermore, Law 348 of 1956 was issued to impose the dissolve of all the civil organizations-;- any violation to the provisions of that law was considered a crime that is subject to Penalty Code.
The Civil Society since 1971 till Now “Regaining the Nominal Dignity of Civil Society Organizations”:
As we mentioned before, civil society and civil work organizations suffered al lot from 1952 till the early 70th, but this situation changed almost radically in the beginning of the 70th and since President Sadat assumed power, as he issued two of the most important decrees in the history of civil society in Egypt, which are the decree of turning to the restricted political pluralism and the economic opening policy-;- those decrees helped increase the civil work associations and provide more opportunities for those associations to receive foreign fund. At the beginning of the 80th, the control of political Islam movements of the different trade -union-s appeared, and the number of law and defensive organizations increased in Egypt from the 80th until present.
Components of the Civil Society in Egypt
The Civil society, according to the Egyptian law, consists of several forms which are:
• Civil associations and institutions, subject to Law no. 84 of 2002.
• Law and defense associations and organizations, subject to Law no. 84 of 2002 and Civil Companies Law.
• Trade -union-s, subject to Law 100 and its amendments.
• Labor -union-s, subject to Labor -union-s Law.
• Work groups, subject to Law no. 84 of 2002.
• Commercial and industrial chambers, subject to Commercial and Industrial Chambers Law.
• Arab and foreign organizations, subject to protocols with the ministry of foreign affairs.
Which we can state them in details as follows:
1- Civil Associations and Institutions:
Those associations are defined by most researchers as non-profit associations, based on the idea of volunteerism and work in different fields related to different aspects of life including social sponsorship and political awareness, etc. But some come to say that those institutions are established on the basis of allocating some money at the beginning to gain profit, however, generally there are some general features of those associations which are:
• They are popular volunteering organizations.
• They are non-profit organization, although they provide services with charge.
• They are organizations that carry political, cultural, social´-or-economic goals
• Law regulates those organizations and they are subject to it-;- they are also supervised by an administrative entity determined by the state.
We can differentiate between those civil associations as follows:
a- Charity Associations.
Which aim at providing social services to those in need for them, including literacy classes, medical clinics and contribution to building schools and worship places.
b- Developmental Associations
Those associations emerged as an intellect transform, in the civil associations, from the concept of charity work to the concept of developmental work, as they worked on empowering the marginalized segments and providing them with the required and sufficient skills to qualify them to participate in the society and engage in the public life, through developing squatters, small loans projects and raising awareness of the disadvantage of children labor and trying to-limit- it.
c- Law and Defense Associations:
They are a group of associations and organizations that are established to defend certain issues such as environment protection and human rights issues, among the most important associations are:
Year of Establishment Association #
1975 Egyptian Organization for Human Rights in Giza 1
1977 The Association of Human Rights in Cairo
1978 The Association of Human Rights in Alexandria 3
1983 Arab Organization for Human Rights 4
1985 Egyptian Organization for Human Rights 5
1991 Center for Trade -union- and Workers’ Services 6
1991 New Women Foundation 7
1991 National Society for Human Rights and Human Development 8
1993 Al Nadeem Center for the Treatment and rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture 9
1993 The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information in Mahala 10
1994 Center of Trade -union- rights in Mansoura 11
1994 Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies 12
1996 Association for Human Rights Legal Assistance 13
1996 Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance 14
1996 Center of the Egyptian
Human Rights for
National unity 15
1994 Land Center for Human Rights 16
1995 Friends of Democracy Programs 17
1995 Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights 18
1996 AlKalema Center for Human Rights 19
1996 Al Adala Center for Human Rights 20
1996 The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights 21
1997 Arab Program for Human Rights Activists 22
1997 Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners 23
1997 The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession 24
1999 Hisham Mubarak Law Center 25
2001 Candles Association for Sponsoring Human Rights 26
2002 Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights 27
2003 The Egyptian Center for Housing Rights 28
1991 National Associations for Human Rights 29
2004 The Egyptian Association Against Medical Negligence and for Human Rights 30
2004 Child Rights Center 31
2004 The Civil Observatory Society for Human Rights 32
2004 The South Centre for Human Rights 33
2004 The Egyptian Association for the Support of Democratic Development 34
2004 Rural Studies Center 35
2004 Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies 36
2004 The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement 377
2004 Egyptian Human Rights Organizations Collective 38
2004 The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information 39
2004 Children of the Earth Foundation 40
2004 The Egyptian Association for Training and Human Rights 41
2005 The Egyptian Association for Disseminating & Developing Legal Awareness 42
Source: Sahar ElDesouki, The Future of Civil Society after January 25 Revolution, Egypt State Information Service
These organizations play a noticeable role in defending human rights especially what is related to abuses of the citizens by police officers.
In addition, there are several independent movements within this framework, to which many activists in the country affiliate, including:
6th of April Movement:
They are a group of youth who introduce themselves as “we are a group of youth gathered for the love of Egypt..we met on Facebook during the call for April 6, 2008 strike..as we called for it by all means..and many of us decided to proceed in this way by forming a youth movement which is independent from any trend´-or-orientation, called 6th of April Youth Movement, which most of its members are not affiliated to any political trend..and some have previous experiences..nothing gather us except the love of Egypt and the assured desire and determination to rescue it from the bad conditions it reached in all the fields as a result of the tyrannical rule of the national party for more than 28 years. We decided to keep our independence from any political faction in Egypt, and go with our experience, that is different from the previous one, with our youth thought and the gain of the benefits of the previous experiences with all respect and appreciation. We welcomed the cooperation with all the political factions without exclusion´-or-pre-sensitivity towards any trend because we are convinced that in this critical moment in Egypt’s history, nothing can work except the coalition and cooperation between all the national trends and powers that seek peaceful reform and change in Egypt’s conditions. We dream of the day when all powers, trends and intellects cooperate to unify in order to get Egypt out of this dangerous situation..We agreed on the vision, goals, plan and rules that govern our dialogue and there are who welcomed and thanks go to them and there are who denied and high respect goes to them as well. Our goals and demands are not different from those of the loyal national powers in the past years, such as providing the freedom of forming parties with just notification, lifting the state of emergency and abolishing the exceptional laws restricting freedoms, issuing new constitution without any ideologies that all political powers agree, a transitional period to apply the principles of real democracy, and establishing rules of the social justice.
It is worth mentioning, that the movement notes in every statement it issue that it declines any support from the embassies of any country, however, it welcomes any support´-or-fund from local´-or-international law associations.
The Popular Campaign for Running and Supporting Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei:
This movement puts in its policy a group of goals including:
- Awareness of the necessity of change for the publics.
- Support for Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei in his run for the Egyptian elections in 2011.
- Attempt to mobilize all the energies for the victory of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei by using the entire mass media.
Kefaya “Enough” Movement:
Kefaya Movement, officially known as “The Egyptian Movement for Change”, succeeded, through its manifesto, in drawing a general image of the serious challenges that Egyptian face on the patriot and national levels, the matter that gave Kefaya a good opportunity to be a popular movement capable of attracting Egyptians from different -dir-ections and cultural backgrounds. The signatories of the manifesto agree on confronting the challenges that face the nations represented in, according to the manifesto, the American invasion of Iraq and the continuing Zionist aggression against Palestinians, and also confronting the comprehensive tyranny that hit Egypt. The movement had seen that confronting those two serious matters needs mobilization of all the efforts on all the political, cultural and civilian levels, it all needs carrying out a comprehensive reform made by Egyptians and not imposed on them by under any title.
Then the movement manifesto moved to introducing the explanatory vision of the comprehensive reform concept, so it included the following four points:
First: Terminating the monopoly of power and open the door to alternate it, beginning from the head of state position, to change the faces and break the political and institutional inaction in all the state’s posts.
Second: Raising the supremacy of law and legitimacy, judicial independence, respect of all the judicial rulings and the enforcement of equity and equal opportunities among all the citizens.
Third: Terminating the monopoly of the revolution which led to the spread of corruption and social injustice, and the prevalence of unemployment and costliness.
Fourth: Working on regaining Egypt’s place and role, lost since the signing of Camp David Accord with the Zionist entity and its ally, the USA.
The signatories of Kefaya’s declaration had seen that in order to get out of this crisis, the immediate start of this reform is needed and the termination of the ruling party monopoly of power and wealth, abolishment of the state of emergency and all the laws restricting freedoms, and also the release of freedoms, lift the guardianship on press, conduction of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections under the full supervision of the supreme Judiciary council and the state’s council.
Thus, one can consider that Kefaya Movement played an import and unprecedented role in raising the ceiling of the political and popular work in Egypt then the declaration of establishment in August 2004, and the activation of its role after the incidents of security violence on the day of the referendum of the constitutional amendments that paved the way for the presidential elections in mid 2005.
New movements have emerged for the mother movements that all call for change and have the enthusiasm and great hopes for implementing it, including and not-limit-ed to: “Youth for the Change”, “Children for the Change”, “Women for the Change”, “Doctors for the Change”, “Authors and Artists for the change” and others.
Kefaya movement massed clearly first against Gamal Mubarak, president’s son, whose issue of Egypt’s rule inheritance was raised a lot recently, and also against President Husni Mobarak himself, who is heading Egypt since October 1981 after the murder for President Sadat in the Famous accident of the stage, to be assuming the longest power in Egypt’s history, since the age of Muhammad Ali, the founder of modern state in the 19th century.
Kefaya Movement, was the first to dare cheering slogans like “Down with Mubarak” for the first time in the entire history of Egypt, as Egyptians since the age of pharos used to deal with their rulers as gods whose actions cannot be discussed, that is why Kefaya movement had an incredible crazy precedence in releasing a cry like this.
However, the role of the Kefaya movement, the most popular movement in Egypt’s history, kept declining noticeably since the beginning of 2007, only three years after its establishment, which call those engaged in the civil and political work within Egypt and the observers of the street movement from outside Egypt, to ask: Is it high time seeing Kefaya Movement off for good? and consequently, the fall of one of the most important pillars of the new civil society in the new millennium of Egypt?
Disorder spread all over this movement, and their more committed advocates kept leaving space for invisibility and incapability of capturing the imagination of the Egyptian people, its leaders divided fighting over everything beginning of veil “hijab” till accusations of corruption, and the government kept crushing its motivating powers through laws and legislations that justify the avoiding of punishments and the deployment of security soldiers like locusts to arrest dozens of activists and intimidate others, and stressing on the rest of the soldiers not to tolerate any un-allowed protesting demonstration.
Within this gap, the supporters and the enemies of the government agreed on the belief that the American pressure for change, which gained some influence in the past, is the main driver behind the emergence of Kefaya Movement in Egypt.
Shayfeenkom “We are Watching You” Movement:
Shayfeenkom Movement for Popular Monitoring was established in 2005 at the aim of monitoring the parliamentary and presidential elections, and it had a cautionary for itself that those in charge of it was believed to choose it right, as the word “shayfeenkom”´-or-“we watch you” is used in the Egyptian slang as a cautionary phrase means: do not make something wrong because there is an eye´-or-rather watching eyes. Yet, this new popular movement could not stand out, in terms of the content and endeavor, for a long time although its strong start which attracted several attentions of the world towards itself. Although it comprised among its founders an information officer with large history such as Butheina Kamel, the baby movement role was restricted quickly to just publications and posters distributed on activists and those concerned in the demonstrations´-or-the cultural centers from time to time.
Judiciary Independence Movement:
The launch of the movements of judges in mid 2005 was synchronized with the constitutional amendments that paved the way to the presidential elections then the people’s assembly elections with which the state allowed the full judicial supervision on the elections for the first time. The launch of this movement had a shaking effect on the ruling system and the Egyptian government, as the judiciary was considered all the time as a part of the executive establishment that is controlled by the ruling system and a loyal follower to it.
The Judiciary Independent Movement was launched form the Judges Club under the leadership of Counselor Zakaria Azmy, after the government dared to destabilize the judicial authority through its attempt to bring honorable judges, who wanted to expose the forgery of the elections, to trials.
Since its establishment, the movement had specified and clear demands represented in amending some law provisions and providing the full independence to the judiciary from the country’s executive authority represented in the ruling system and the government. May be those demands, so to speak, kill two birds with one stone, as from one hand they target achieving the judges’ factious interests in the capacity of being workers in the judiciary profession, and from the other hand, judges drove a number of general democratic demands that target achieving their interest as citizens among the Egyptian masses.
Despite the big influence of the Judiciary membership with all its power and respect, on the lay men, the judges movement did not succeed in reflecting the overall attitude of Egypt as much a movement such as Kefaya succeeded in doing that.
9th of March Movement:
The 9th of March movement, known also by “Universities Independence Movement”, was launched by white-collar workers including Egyptian universities professors in 2004. Its main target was achieving the independence of the university from the control of the state and the security forces, following the example of the brave action that Ahmed Lotfy ElSayyed took 70 years before.
The movement manifesto mentions that “On March 9, 1932 Ahmed Lotfy ElSayyed, the President of the Egyptian University back then, handed in his resignation from his post protesting against the Minister of Education’s decision of transferring Dr. Taha Hussein from the university without his approval´-or-consulting the university. In the memory of this brave action defending the university independence and the dignity of its professors, the members of the movement thought of having an annual celebration in which we reminded the academia and the entire powers of the state with the importance of the university independence and its necessity so it regains its efficiency and role in the society.
We also take this day as an occasion of reviving the discussion about the future of university and the education in general-;- we hope that this year’s celebration would be a start of a dialogue and work on enabling the universities of practicing its role as independent and democratic institutions-;- we also call everybody to share us in order to keep this celebration on year after year as a motivation for us to hold with setting up of an academic environment that is “based on the devotion to education, the sacrifice to serve it, the independence of opinion, thought and work as Ahmed Lotfy ElSayyed wanted it”.
Perhaps 9th of March Movement is the only one which was able to maintain its coherence and the steadiness of its steps towards the desired goals, since the date of its establishment till the day, and it did not witness the same decline of the other popular movements parallel to it. Thus, it can be said that the combination of the academic experience of the esteemed professors in charge of the movement, the enthusiasm, the specified and clear goal of the movement and adhering to it, the holding of regular meetings, and the conducting of organized protests with clear goals when required and in carefully considered timings, is the real reason behind the stability and the progress of 9th of March Movement than the similar popular movements in Egypt, yet we aspire for more activation of the role of the movement to encompass all the sectors of the society not just the education sector.
Egyptians against Torture Movement:
“Egyptians against Torture Movement” is one of the other important popular movements, which played a great role in raising the level of Egyptian people’s awareness and stirring it, and may be it is also the only popular movement that could achieve tangible goals in reality. It was established after the success of some bloggers, internet youth, independent activists and NGOs in exposing the violent practices and the humane violations committed against citizens by police officers inside the Egyptian prisons and police stations.
Egyptians against Torture Movement saw light for the first time in the syndicate of journalists on September 9, 2007 in the presence of a number of civil organizations and parties’ representatives, civil society activists, Egyptian bloggers and internet activists.
The establishing conference started be declaring solidarity with the Association for Human Rights Legal Assistance and rejecting its dissolve, then taking the attendees’ opinions about the nature of the committee’s membership and it agreed on making it open for all the Egyptians. Then some of the attendees presented their suggestions about the tools of the committee which was centered about: issuing an annual report about torture cases that took place in Egypt to be edited according to what the ministry of interior declares, which helps the international society keep up to date with the real image of the relation between security and citizens. Moreover, preparing a black list with the names of the police officers who practice torture, to be updated constantly at the aim of exposing them to the society.
Second: Trade -union-s:
There are 24 trade -union-s that their membership requires the necessity of having a certain profession such as education and art, etc. Those trade -union-s are:
1. Bar Association: established in 1921
2. Syndicate of Journalists: established in 1941
3. Engineering Association: established in 1946
4. Medical Syndicate: established in 1949
5. Pharmacists Syndicate: established in 1949
6. Veterinary Syndicate: established in 1949
7. Agriculture Professions Syndicate: established in 1949
8. Teachers Syndicate: established in 1954
9. Cinema Professions Syndicate: established in 1955
10. Theatrical Professions Syndicate: established in 1955
11. Musicians Syndicate: established in 1955
12. Commercial Professions Syndicate: established in 1955
13. Scientific Professions Syndicate: established in 1964
14. Social Occupations Syndicate: established in 1973
15. Applicators Syndicate: established in 1973
16. Applied Arts Designers Syndicate: established in 1976
17. Plastic Artists Syndicate: established in 1976
18. Nursing Syndicate: established in 1976
19. Tourist Guides Syndicate: established in 1983
20. Mohaffezy of Holy Qura an Syndicate: established in 1993
21. Sports Vocations Syndicate: established in 1987
22. Customs Workers Syndicate: Established in 1994
23. Physical Therapy Syndicate: established in 1994
These syndicates play an important role in the awareness and formation of the culture and minds of those affiliated to them, they also play an important role in defending the rights of their affiliates and speaking on behalf of them.
Third: Labor -union-s:
There are 23 labor -union-s, which are:
1. General Syndicate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Aquatic Wealth Workers
2. General Syndicate of Spinning and Weaving
3. General Syndicate of Trade Workers
4. General -union- of Banking and Insurance Employees
5. General Railways Workers -union-
6. General -union- of Telecomms
7. General Syndicate of Public Utilities Workers
8. General Syndicate of Education and Scientific Research Workers
9. General -union- for Health Services Workers
10. General -union- for Workers in Food Industries
11. General Trade -union- of Workers of Engineering and Metal Industries
12. General Syndicate of Construction and Wood Industries Workers
13. General Syndicate for Road Transport Workers
14. General Trade -union- of Maritime Transport Workers
15. General Trade -union- of Air Transport Workers
16. General Syndicate for Chemicals Workers
17. General Syndicate for Mine and Quarry Workers
18. General Trade -union- of Press, -print-ing and Media Workers
19. -union- of Tourism and Hotels Operators
20. -union- of Administrative Services
21. General Syndicate of War Production Civilian Workers
22. General Syndicate for Mail Workers
23. General -union- of Petroleum Workers
Fourth: Businessmen Associations:
Businessmen Associations are defined as “a group of administrative organizations that has a self-independent structure from the government, includes members who meet in their interest in the economic politics, and expresses the interests of their members in addition to its capability of contributing to backing development activities.”
These associations emerged due to the economic opening policy which Egypt followed in the early 70th of the last century-;- they started with the Egyptian-American Board of Businessmen in 1975, then Egyptian Businessmen Association in 1977. The number of these associations reaches 97 according to 2007 statistics and the number of businessmen members of them is approximately 15000, among these active associations are:
- Federation of Egyptian Industries
- Egyptian Businessmen Association
- American-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce (1981)
- Businessmen Association in Alexandria (1983)
- Egypt’s Economic International Forum
These associations work on affecting the economic and social policies and contributing to legislations formulation through joint committees with the government.
Fifth: Chambers of commerce and Industry:
The chambers of commerce establishment dates back to 1880, when the first chamber of commerce was established in Alexandria-;- they are entities that represent the commercial and industrial interests at the governmental authorities. There are 26 chambers of commerce, in the amount of one chamber in each governorate except Luxor governorate. While with regard to the industrial chambers, there are 16 chambers of industry in Egypt which are:
- Chamber for Building Materials Industries
- Chamber of Chemical Industries
- Chamber of Engineering Industries
- Chamber of Information Technology & Communication
- Chamber of Leather Tanning
- Chamber of Petroleum & Mining Industries
- Chamber of -print-ing Industries
- Chamber of Textile industries
- Chamber of Cereals & Its Products
- Chamber of Cinema Industry
- Chamber of Leather Industry
- Chamber of Food industries
- Chamber of Pharmaceutical Cosmetics & Appliances
- Chamber of Private Sector Healthcare Providers
- Chamber of Wood Working & Furniture Industries
Besides those organizations, there are other organizations within the framework of civil society including:
- Social Movements
- Faculty Clubs in Universities
- Sports and Social Clubs
- Youth Centers and Student -union-s
- Free Press and Media and Publishing Independent Bodies (not affiliated to the state)
- Research and Studies Centers and Cultural Associations
Division of Civil Society Organizations according to their Activity:
a- Human Rights Organizations:
These associations are registered under Law no. 84 of 2002 and some of them were registered as non-profit companies, their number reaches, according to 2007 statistics issued by the General Federation of Associations, 61 organizations-;- their activities are-limit-ed to the following -function-s:
- Observation of human rights violation cases.
- Dissemination of human rights culture through awareness and seminars.
- Providing of -dir-ect legal counseling to those whose rights are violated.
Some consider the associations working in the field of human development, as human rights organizations as they work on improving the conditions of the citizens. Most of the associations working in that field focus on the civil and political rights, citizenship rights, women and labor rights, etc. of the rights of the individuals and the different society segments.
b- Consumer Protection Associations
They are 671 associations according to the General Federation of Association-;- they play an important role in confronting the high prices and fighting corruption. However, in fact, their role in Egypt is almost unknown.
c- Environment Protection Associations
They are a group of associations that defend environment rights and their number reaches 4416 associations registered with Ministry of Social Solidarity in Egypt until 2007.
d- Women Organizations
These organizations aim at defending women rights and trying to rise and empower them, in a society where the percentage of women’s political participation decreases, through raising awareness of their political, social and cultural rights. In fact, we find two types of the organizations defending women rights: organizations established by women to defend their rights and other organizations concerned with women issues.
The Role of the Civil Society in the Revolution
Revolutions do not emerge from nothing nor happen suddenly, but there must be previous mobilizers that lead to their outbreak and this what happened with January Revolution which came because of many reasons, one of the most important is the continuous movement of the civil society in including associations, organizations and websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The goals of the civil society before the revolution were:
- Trying to rationalize and fix the rule.
- Working on carrying on constitutional and legislative reform.
- Terminating the project of inheritance.
- Assuring the human rights and freedoms and the necessity of respecting them.
This was briefly before the revolution, but during and after it the civil society took the responsibility of contribution to the country -dir-ection towards the democratic transform. This will be shown in the coming pages.
1- Participation of Civil Society Institutions and Civil Associations
The civil society is the base of the revolution in Egypt as no one can deny the role that civil society played with its different forms before the revolution. This was not just the role of the civil society-;- as it had different forms such as documenting the diaries of the revolution, observing human rights violation cases, forming fact finding committees and seeking to change Law 84 of 2002. It also demanded the release of youth detained on January 25 and worked on monitoring the government and evaluating what it does.
During the revolution many civil society associations tended to ally together under the slogan “Together for Solidarity for the Sake of Egypt”, trying to help the revolution-affected people who either their economic conditions were affected by the revolution due to the close of some shops, coffee shops, stores and factories,´-or-their health conditions were affected because they were injured in the revolution. These associations are:
- The Egyptian Association for Integrated Development
- Rabaa ElAdaweya Association
- ElBaqeiat ElSalehat Association
- Misr Elkheir Association
On the other hand, several popular movements took out during the revolution and organized demonstrations and strikes such as:
6th of April Youth Movement:
It had an important role on the days of rage, as it is considered one of Egypt’s biggest youth movements in number-;- it is based on the decentralization in its formation and it is a movement that was formed via Facebook and twitter upon a call for a strike on April 6, 2008 to protest against high prices and the increasing percentages of corruption. Indeed, the strike took place in several governorates, especially in Gharbeya and particularly Mahala Kobra city.
Freedom and Justice Group:
It is a group of youth affiliated to the New Generation Institutions, and it is one of the activist civil society associations. Khalil Said is coordinating it.
“We Are All Khaled Said” Group:
This group emerged due to the crime of killing the Khaled Said, the young man who lives in Alexandria, by policemen who later accused him of dying due to drugs overdose. This case drew the sympathy of many Egyptians which made of it the spark of the Egyptian revolution. This group is considered the largest gathering of Egyptian citizens on Facebook, the website of social interaction.
2- Role of Civil Society Foreign Associations in the Revolution:
Civil society foreign associations that have different offices in Egypt, were not far from what is happening on the Egyptian territories like demonstrations and different movements seek liberation from the tyrannical regime and improvement of the conditions of the Egyptians inside, as those associations doubled their funds for the Egyptian organizations after the revolution, to reach 200 million dollars for those organizations who are subject to Law no. 84 of 2002 and other organizations and movements that are not subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Funding some popular movements including the coalition of the revolution youth and 6th of April movement and other active movements of the civil society, raises the percentages of the political participation and works on raising the awareness and urging the Egyptian citizens to contribute to decision making in their country and elect who they see suitable for them and would achieve their goals and the country’s and go with the country up.
Among the most important associations are:
1- The International Republican Institute (IRI):
It is an association funded -dir-ectly from the American administration-;- IRI’s board of -dir-ectors is chaired by U.S. Senator John McCain and its president is Lorne Craner. IRI aims at helping the states that have tyrannical regimes to establish democratic associations, and fostering the role of civil society and political parties in those states so they would be able to influence the decision maker to be -dir-ected towards democracy. This appears in IRI president’s words before the committee on foreign affairs in the USA “It is important, when we necessarily have relations with authoritarian governments, to plan for the day when they may no longer be in power, and to cultivate and assist those who may replace them and we must have existence in these countries to help establish democratic associations and provide a helping environment for the political parties and the civil society to be able to organize and prepare to take their part in the elections.”
2- Friedrich Naumann Foundation
It is a German foundation funded by the German administration and some churches there-;- it also has close relation with the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany and it conducts several studies and discussion panels on the civilization, the role of the civil society and the necessity of participating in it. Moreover, it works on qualifying several individuals for running for different offices including party leaderships and national elections.
3- Famous Ford Foundation
One of the most ancient foundations that work in the field long time ago, as it funded several civil society organizations and has many branches, under the name of the International Center for Transitional Justice, such as Egypt and Iraq after the occupation and in Tunisia.
4- Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation
It works on disseminating the principles of democracy and the multipart culture in the Middle East-;- it also declares on its website a main goal which is the contribution in achieving security in the Middle East region between Israel and the Arab Countries and Turkey.
Generally, the goal of foreign associations in Egypt can be-limit-ed to the following:
1- Helping in establishing an internal political current that serves the country of every association.
2- Working on raising awareness of democracy and disseminating its culture in the different countries, and the multipart culture.
3- Helping in supporting the market’s economy.
Thus, we find that the civil society played an important role in the process of the democratic reform through different group of axises as mentioned before-;- it contributed in the dissemination of the democracy and citizenship cultures and it also played an effective role in confronting the injustice and tyranny of the previous regime and some of them faced grave consequences due to that. Moreover, there is an another big role for the civil society in the democratic transform which is the contribution to the supervision and monitoring of the electoral process which appeared from observing of civil society organizations while monitoring the Egyptian elections, whether the parliamentary including People’s Assembly and Shoura Council as their number reached 60´-or-presidential which some organizations rejected the law governing them for its restriction to the monitoring process, and decided to monitor without relying on the law-;- Ibn Khaldun Center is one of those biggest organizations which mounted Free and Fair campaign to monitor the electoral process in cooperation with a network of civil society organizations explaining its point of view of rejecting the law regulating the monitoring process in a statement it issued with the following script:
Legal Reading of the Legislative Deficiency of the Electoral Process
The presidential electoral Commission is a supreme judicial commission that has wide unprecedented authorities, and it was supposed to handle every deficiency its work may encounter. According to Article 28 of the constitutional declaration which stipulates that:
A supreme judicial commission named the “Presidential Elections Commission” will supervise the election of the president of the republic beginning with the announcement of the opening of candidate nomination and ending with the announcement of the election result. The Commission will be composed of the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court as the head, and a membership made up of the president of the Cairo Appeals Court, the most senior deputies of the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the most senior deputies of the president of the Court of Cassation and the most senior deputies of the president of the State Council. The Commission’s decisions will be final and carry the force of law, and will not subject to objections from any party, in the same manner as it is forbidden for the decisions to be stopped´-or-canceled. The purview of the Commission will be by law. The Commission will form committees to supervise voting and counting according to the stipulations in Article 39. Draft legislation for presidential elections will be shown to the Supreme Constitutional Court before being issued to determine the extent of compliance with the constitution. The Supreme Constitutional Court will issue its decision on this matter within 15 days of receiving the draft legislation. If it decides that the text is unconstitutional, more work must be done before the law can be issued. In all cases, the decision of the Court will be obligatory for all authorities of the state, and will be published in the official gazette within three days of being released.
It is also regulated by Law no. 174 of 2005 as amended by Decree No. 12 of 2012 concerning the presidential elections. It is the law that stipulated the existence of the commission and assigned it the issuing of decisions that regulate its work, thus, the commission issued several regulating decisions, among the most important are:
- Commission decision no.1/2012 of amending the rule of the commission exercise of its specializations.
- Commission decision no.2/2012 of updating the data base of the electors.
- Commission decision no.3/2012 of the regulations of the ratification of the signatures of the electors who support those want to run for Egypt’s presidency.
- Commission decision no.4/2012 of the rules and the procedures of the voting of the Egyptians living abroad.
- Commission decision no.5/2012 of calling the electors for electing the president of Egypt.
- Commission decision no.6/2012 of banning the election publicity during the period that is not legally authorized.
- Commission decision no.7/2012 of the rules of funding the election campaigns.
- Commission decision no.9/2012 of forming a committee to monitor and evaluate the amount of the election publicity spending.
- Commission decision no.10/2012 of the regulations of the election publicity.
- Commission decision no.11/2012 of the regulations of monitoring the civil society local organizations.
- Commission decision no.12/2012 of the regulations of monitoring the international organizations.
- Commission decision no.13/2012 of the procedures and rules of specification of the election symbols.
- Commission decision no.14/2012 of the final list of 2012 presidential elections candidates.
- Commission decision no.15/2012 of listing Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Shafik Zaki on the final list of candidates.
- Commission decision no.16/2012 of the regulations of the media coverage.
- Commission decision no.17/2012 of the amendments of some of the provisions of Decree no. 1 of 2012 of the commission exercise of its specializations.
- Commission decision no.18/2012 of the amendments of some of the provisions of Decree no. 4 of 2012 of the rules and the procedures of the voting of the Egyptians living abroad.
- Commission decision no.19/2012 of the amendments of some of the provisions of Decree no. 11 of 2012 of the regulations of civil society local organizations monitoring of the elections.
- Commission decision no.20/2012 of the amendments of some of the provisions of Decree no. 12 of 2012 of the regulations the international organizations monitoring of the elections.
These are beside the other several decisions issued by the commission and its head. Despite these regulating laws and several decisions, there are still several legal and practical problems that accompanied the electoral process and did not find legislative solutions, and the commission was helpless before them with tied hands.
First: The Position of the Nationality of the Candidate’s Family:
Article 26 of the constitutional declaration, issued on March 30, 2011, stipulated that who runs for the president’s post should be Egyptian of Egyptian parents, and did not nor his parents hold the nationality of other country, and should not be married to non-Egyptian.
This provision considered in its definition that the dual nationality of the candidate´-or-one of his parents could mean a conflict in the loyalty required in the person who holds such high post, the thing that made the commission exclude the presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail’s papers because his mother holds the American nationality.
Free and Fair Campaign sees that according to the same definition and criterion, that provision should have been applied on the children of the candidates, which is not included in the constitutional provision and considered a clear legislative deficiency. According to the clear interpretation of the mentioned provision, there should be no sentiment towards another country that conflicts with the president of Egypt loyalty because he, one of his parents, his wife holds its nationality. However, the parenthood emotion exceeds the sonhood and the marital emotions, according to all the psychologists’ interpretations, and by reviewing the Egyptian case one can ask a real question: does the presidential candidate Dr. Moahmed Morsi children’s American nationality is less dangerous and influential in his loyalty than the American nationality of Hazem Abu Ismail’s late mother.
Second: Elections Schedules:
The commission justified its inability of giving a copy of the electors’ lists to the candidates, by legal provisions related to the data base which hinder this, the nonexistence of this provision in the presidential elections and that in the parliamentary election the law of People’s Assembly allows this and accordingly that list of the parliamentary elections were given to the candidates. This is a strange and illogical justification especially that the electors’ lists and their obtaining by the candidates is a logical and axiomatic matter for insuring the flawlessness of the electoral process, especially because it was actually accompanied by an extreme clamor regarding those lists.
The Campaign sees that the commission must, according to its specializations, handle this defect immediately and demand the inclusion of a legal provision that allows it to give the candidate these key data.
Third: Election Campaign:
Which is regulated by the articles from 36 to 30 within the commission decision no.1/2005 and amended by Decree no. 1 of 2012.
And Commission decision no.6/2012 of banning the election publicity during the period that is not legally authorized.
Commission decision no.7/2012 of the rules of funding the election campaigns.
Commission decision no.9/2012 of forming a committee to monitor and evaluate the amount of the election publicity spending.
Commission decision no.10/2012 of the regulations of the election publicity.
Yet, through the work of the campaign we find that with regard to:
1- The Spending Ceiling:
The commission, despite the issuance of its decisions, is still unable to put a real mechanism for calculating the amount of the candidates’ spending and regulate it for real.
Free and Fair sees that to stop the mess of spending on the electoral processes, the legislation must be congruent to the reality so that the allowed number of spending increases in commensuration with the practical reality of the electoral process and the reality of the expenses according to the known and common prices in the field of publicity and advertisement. In addition to putting a real regulator to monitor the spending, we see that a bank account should be opened for the campaign, that spending should be only through it and we also see that any publicity for the candidates should not be done without a permit stamped from the commission to the candidates´-or-who is legally on behalf of them. Moreover, the competent bodies, each according to its specialization, should not allow any kind of signs, the distribution of any paper publicity,´-or-holding election conferences without this permit which allow a real monitoring of the spending.
2- Violations of the Election Publicity Rules:
In fact, the commission is unable to stop the transgressions of the candidates and their supporters under the absence of real mechanisms that allow its tuning of the electoral process. Free and Fair Campaign sees that the commission by being not having the possibility of excluding a candidate for violating the rules and laws of the electoral process is a matter that increases the violations of the candidates. The referral to the general persecution is in fact not enough and the campaign previously alerted that both the presidential candidates made clear violations to the rules of the election publicity which are considered electoral crimes can be sentenced with prison´-or-fine according to Article 54 of Law 174 of 2005 and amended by Decree 12 of 2012, as Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the presidential candidate, held an election conference at Mansoura University and the LT General Ahmed Shafik, the other presidential candidate, held a press conference at the morning of one of the first round days, which breaks Article 21 of Law 174 of 2005 and amended by Decree 12 of 2012.
This is of course beside the inability of the commission to stop the transgressions that happen in front of the committees during the days of elections.
Fourth: The Rules of Civil Society Monitoring of the Electoral Process:
a- The commission acts as if the previous regime did not fight the work of the civil society´-or-restrict it
It requires that the organizations should be registered according to Law 84 of 2002, which is the law that most of the activists and human rights advocates in Egypt reject because it fights the freedom of organization. Furthermore, it goes more far by requiring that the work of the organization should include, at the time of its license, the fields of political development, human rights and democracy (which are the same fields that licenses of organizations are denied because of them by the administration entity by recommendation from the former state’s security body). We find no justification for the insisting on this condition, given that several organizations managed to add those fields later on and after the revolution and the fall of the state’s security body.
b- The commission breaks the traditional international rules of the observers’ work and delegates their job:
We find it does not allow monitoring but observing for just half an hour, from inside the committees, that could be shrunk´-or-even the existence of the observers can be denied on the plea of the crowd by the head of the committee according to the text of the decision itself. It does not also allow any kind of interaction´-or-communication between the observers and the electors to survey their opinion about the electoral process which is one of the obligatory combining matters to the electoral processes, furthermore, it bans giving any statements´-or-reports to the media and press about the progress of the electoral process,´-or-issuing reports after the end of the voting about the prospects of the electoral results which makes us refuse to bow to the decisions of a commission that does not want us to document´-or-observe what is happening inside the committee and does not want us to report what is happening outside them, communicate with the citizens and survey their opinions about the elections.
Fifth: Announcing the Results:
We are living a real mess because of the commission’s inability to cope with the rapidity of the candidates and the media in following the vote count process and the calculation of the results, as the commission cannot, under the absence of a legislation that criminate announcing the preliminary results before the official announcement, stop at all this real farce as it criminalized this action on the civil society organizations which it authorized them to observe the elector process. It could not, under a clear legislative absence, play any real role to stop the announcement of every candidate’s progress in exchange-;- the reality of those announcements is a -dir-ect accusation to the commission of forging the electoral process as the final numbers came different from what every candidate announced, so how the commission allowed itself to be accused of such accusation.
Free and Fare Campaign would like to confirm for one more time on the importance of developing the vote count and results calculation process, and introducing new technologies for counting and calculating the votes and the papers that allows finishing those process quickly and thoroughly in due time
Thus, we see that the civil society had a big and effective role that allows it to take such decision of breaking an enforced law for a vision in which it find it a curtailment to itself and its specializations as an observer.
List of References:
1- Burhan Ghalioun, building of Arab civil society: the role of internal and external factors.
2- Desouki ,Sahar, the future of civil society after the revolution of January 25, General Authority for Information 2011
3- Mr. Yassin and others, civil society in the Arab world and its role in achieving democracy, Center for Arab Unity Studies 2001.
4- Ali Khalifa AlKawary and others, The Democratic Issue in The Arab World, (Beirut: Center of Arab Unity for Studies) 2002
5- Borhan Galion and others, The Democracy and poltical parties in the Arab Countries: Mutual Situations and Fears (Beirut: Center of Arab Unity for Studies), First Edition, 2011.
6- Mohamed mokhtar, The role of civil society in the democratization, Ibn Khaldun Center, cairo, Egypt.
7- Salama, Ghassan, society and the state in the Arab Middle East, (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies) 1978.