From my recent article at Arab West Report, continuing a series of interviews with members of the Committee of Fifty which wrote the constitution. Hagag Oddoul is a novelist of Nubian origin, and an advocate for their cause. The article describes his background as well as that of his people, and this excerpt defines that cause as it became defined in the constitution:
Article 236, however, was his crowning achievement, and he did not have to play the withdrawal card to win it. It specifically refers to Nubia as a geographical area:
The state shall develop and implement a plan for the comprehensive economic and urban development of border and underprivileged areas, including Upper Egypt, Sinai, Matrouh, and Nubia. This is to be achieved by the participation of the residents of these areas in the development projects and the priority in benefiting from them, taking into account the cultural and environmental patterns of the local community, within ten years from the date that this Constitution comes into effect, in the manner organized by law.
The state works on developing and implementing projects to bring back the residents of Nubia to their original areas and develop them within 10 years in the manner organized by law.
It should be noted the term ‘right of return’ does not appear in this article, and that is fine with Udūl. He recognized this expression was charged with connections to the Palestinian issue, which would only serve to distract the discussion. It is the concept he advocated for, and he faced little opposition from his colleagues.
Recognition that the border areas of Egypt needed development that involved local residents was easily achieved, the language of which pleased Udūl as a great achievement. But there was some discussion about how to term the responsibility of the state in returning the residents of Nubia to their original areas. He personally wanted the state to be ‘obligated’, while a lesser wording ‘to secure’ was also rejected. In the end he was satisfied with ‘works’, because it was accompanied by a timeframe of ten years. Being measurable, it must happen.
Oddoul also describes the negotiations over anti-discrimination articles and those pertaining to culture. Please click here to read the rest of the article at Arab West Report.