History of the Egyptian Constitution

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The Constitution of Egypt has passed over a long period of evolution from the liberal constitution of 1923 to the contemporary constitution.

Ancient Egypt

Egypt is known for having one of the earliest administrative and legislative codes in history. Pharaonic civilization laid the groundwork in Egypt in terms of governance and management. The king or Pharaoh, at the top of the state hierarchy, appointed high-ranking government officials.

Early Islamic era

During the Islamic era, governance and legislation were principally drawn from the Holy Qur-ân and the Sunna, (or Traditions) of the Prophet based on the formula of consultation as one of the fundamental principles of Islamic law.

When Egypt became the capital of the Shi'ite Fatimid Caliphate (969-1171) governance and legislation developed. Furthermore, the city of Cairo became the capital of Egypt.

Throughout the era of the Ayubi state (1171–1250), the Citadel became the headquarters and the center of power. Legislative and judicial councils diversified, and there was a justice council and another to attend to complaints lodged. Their duties involved laws as well as treaties with foreign countries

In the Mamluk era (1250–1517) Sultan El-Zaher Bebars built the Court of Justice at Salah El-Deen El-Ayoubi Citadel to be the government premises. Its competence covered enforcement of laws, settling of disputes, and negotiations with nearby countries.

Ottoman Empire

During the Ottoman era, (1517–1805) Islamic courts constituted the judicial system. Judges had their verdicts directly based on Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia) as far as civil and criminal disputes were concerned. This continued in effect until the end of the 18th Century. Thus, Egypt had been the scene of crucial political and social developments

In 1795, almost six years after the French revolution, a major political uprising demanding rights, freedoms and justice fueled. It brought together national forces and popular leaderships in support of national demands for justice, equality & freedom.

As a result of the mounting resistance against the Ottoman ruler, the Wali and (Mamluks), Egypt was on the verge of a massive revolt. This led to the Ulama laying their hands on a written document which outlined the individual - ruler relationship averting a tax hike without the consent of the people's representatives notably, the dignitaries (the Ulama).

20th century

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The first 20th century constitution for Egypt is that of 1923.

In 1956, a new Constitution was proclaimed stipulating the formation of the National Assembly on 22 July 1957. It was made up of 350 elected members and remained effective until 10 February 1958, when the Egyptian-Syrian merger was given force and the 1956 Constitution revoked. The Provisional Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt was formulated in March 1958, and a joint National Assembly was established. It first met on 21 July 1960 and lasted to 22 June 1961.

On 27 September 1962, after the secession of the Syrian Arab Republic from the United Arab Republic, a Constitutional Proclamation was made, which stipulated that the Provisional Constitution of 1958 should remain in force insofar as it did not contradict the Proclamation. In March 1964, a further provisional Constitution was declared, leading to a 350-elected member National Assembly. This Assembly lasted from 26 March 1964 to 12 November 1968. New elections were held on 20 January 1969, and the Assembly was valid until 30 August 1971.

In 1971, when President Anwar Sadat took office, he moved towards the adoption of a new democratic constitution that would allow more freedoms; the return to a more sound parliamentary life, correct democratic practice and made Sharia "the principal source of legislation" (ch. II).

21st century

In 2005, President Hosni Mubarak asked the parliament to amend Article 76 of the constitution that defines how the President of Egypt is elected.

2011 Egyptian revolution

During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, opponents to President Mubarak demanded modifications to the constitution or rewriting it. On 10 February 2011, Mubarak stated that he had requested that Articles 76, 77, 88, 93 and 181 be amended and that Article 179 be removed.[1] Following Mubarak's resignation, the military government of Egypt appointed the Egyptian constitutional review committee of 2011 and proposed that Articles 76, 77, 88, 93, 139, 148 and 189 be amended and Article 179 removed.[2] On March 30, a new provisional constitution was adopted based on the amended articles in addition to other aimed at steering through the transition period of constitutional reform. A new constitution was approved in 2012.[3]

2013 Egyptian coup d'état

President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown on 3 July 2013 in a coup d'état, necessitating the revision of the constitution.[4] A constitutional referendum took place from 14–15 January 2014.[5]

List of written constitutions


  1. Adams, Richard (10 February 2011). "Mubarak refuses to resign - Thursday 10 February". The Guardian. London.
  2. Saleh, Yasmine (2011-02-27). "Factbox: Proposed changes to Egypt's constitution". Thomson Reuters. Archived from the original on 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
  3. "Egyptian constitution 'approved' in referendum". BBC News. 23 December 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  4. "Egypt's timetable for transition to elections". Associated Press. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  5. Gregg Carlstrom (14 December 2013). "Egypt president sets date for referendum". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
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