The Treachery of Images

by Nariman Youssef

I had the non-pleasure to translate* the new Egyptian constitution,** just passed in a phony referendum, for Egypt Independent. Here is a summary of my thoughts:

ceci n'est pas une constitution

*      *      *

* It was important, to enable a wider debate, to make the constitution draft available in English as soon as it was made public, so it was necessary work and all that. But.. translation is above all very close reading.. and in this case, close reading meant 48 hours of being closely and painfully aware of every instance of contradiction and intentional vagueness that together make this pas-constitution practically useless as a legal text (except of course for those in power, who will be using it to justify everything and its opposite).

** In case you missed the link above, here’s my painfully-begotten translation: The official Arabic version can be found here: