News / Middle East

    Egyptian Opposition to Continue Protests Against Referendum

    An anti-Mursi protester walks past graffiti depicting two activists who died recently, at Tahrir Square in Cairo December 10, 2012.
    An anti-Mursi protester walks past graffiti depicting two activists who died recently, at Tahrir Square in Cairo December 10, 2012.
    VOA News
    Despite concrete barricades and a heavy military presence in the Egyptian capital Cairo, opposition leaders say they will keep up the pressure on the president to cancel Saturday's constitutional referendum.
    The opposition National Salvation Front, led by liberals including Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, have called on their supporters to march on the presidential palace in Cairo on Tuesday.  

    Developments in Egypt

    • November 22: Presidential decree gives Mr. Morsi sweeping powers, protests erupt
    • November 30: Islamist assembly adopts draft constitution
    • December 1: Constitution referendum scheduled for December 15
    • December 2: Judges say they will boycott constitution referendum
    • December 5: Protesters clash outside presidential palace in Cairo
    • December 8: Morsi annuls presidential decree
    • December 10: Morsi gives military authority to arrest civilians
    In a statement late Sunday, a National Salvation Front spokesman said the draft constitution does not properly represent the Egyptian people. He said going ahead with a referendum on the document will lead to more confrontation in the country. 

    But Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has refused to back down. On Monday, he gave the military authority to arrest civilians as part of a decree to help maintain security for the referendum. The order tasks the military with supporting police to protect "vital institutions."
    Many secular Egyptians fear the draft constitution will erode civil liberties because it boosts the role of Islamic law and makes no specific mention of women's rights. A constituent assembly dominated by Islamists approved the document last month after liberal and Christian members walked out, complaining that their voices were being ignored. 
    Some observers say the draft constitution has a good chance of being approved because Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement has a superior ability to mobilize supporters to vote. 
    Morsi made a concession to the opposition on Saturday by canceling parts of a November 22 decree that granted himself sweeping powers. He made the announcement after a day of talks with other political figures. Most opposition groups boycotted the dialogue. 

    • An army soldier guards his tank in front the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 2012.
    • Children play around protest camp tents in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 2012.
    • Army tanks, left, deploy as Egyptian protesters gather outside the presidential palace during a demonstration against President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters shout slogans as they stand on top of a wall in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • People clash with anti-Morsi protesters, after the protesters blocked the gate of a government building near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters sit outside their tents, below a flag that reads, "No, to Constitution," Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 10, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Protesters push army soldiers standing guard in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Soldiers stand guard on top of a tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.

    Morsi also said that if the draft constitution is rejected in Saturday's referendum, he will call elections for a new constituent assembly to draft another charter that will be put to a popular vote. 
    The president removed provisions of the November 22 decree that shielded all of his decisions from judicial review. Opposition groups had complained that the original measure gave the president dictatorial powers. 
    But Morsi's Saturday decree said the courts remain barred from challenging his "constitutional declarations." 
    Mohammed ElBaradei sent out a tweet Sunday saying the fight against the new constitution is about the "essence of the state, universal rights and values, and looking forwards, not backwards." 
    On Saturday, Egypt's military made its first public comment on the political crisis, urging both sides to resolve political differences through dialogue.  It warned that continued confrontation risks plunging Egypt into a "dark tunnel leading to catastrophe" and vowed "not to allow" such an outcome.
    Egyptian troops set up concrete barriers outside the presidential palace Sunday to prevent rival groups of liberals and Islamists from holding further rallies at the site. Street battles between the two sides have killed seven people in the capital in recent days. 

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 11, 2012 3:39 AM
    the problem in Egypt yield no effect on Egyptian Muslim brotherhood nor American policy maker . it seems that both refuse to understand.Despite Egypt in the news for one year the condition is deteriorating, and a Muslim gov who declare that us is a public enemy no1. the Obama administration is giving one billion dollar and allow Egyptian gov to purchase airplane fighter. what is the purpose to supply Egypt with military equipment . is that good for next middle east. or using these military equipment to kill the infidel in Egypt the Christian.

    by: johnsmith from: knoxville
    December 10, 2012 11:21 PM
    This will happen here soon. I hope they'll have enough room in the FEMA camps for all of us

    by: markjuliansmith from: Canberra
    December 10, 2012 3:47 PM
    "..liberal and Christian members walked out, complaining that their voices were being ignored."

    Egyptian Liberals etc have to ask themselves what the promises of Iranian Islamists to protect Other meant in the long run.

    It is amazing how similar a secular doctrine to a religious doctrine of suppression of Other; how Other is defined as evil and and due to Others innate nature inevitably subject to grievous harm and severest penalty.

    Yet one is rightly suppressed and the other able to spread its dogma of hate without censure. Incredibly those who point this out are censured - so it was in the 1930s.

    Change the foundation text or change nothing.

    by: ThomHH from: Washington, DC
    December 10, 2012 11:10 AM
    Morsi is like a three-year-old looking for one more way around the rules! It does not bode well for Egyptian democracy to have an infant in charge.

    by: Stephen Real from: Columbia, USA
    December 10, 2012 10:57 AM
    Hey Senator John Kerry, Amb. Susan Rice, US Congress, etc.,etc,etc...Why are you not taking Herr Morsi out too the woodshed? He deserves a serious public dress down.

    by: Michael Collins from: Oakland, California
    December 10, 2012 10:48 AM
    It's hard to imagine a stable political system when the constitutional structure only requires 51%. Every time there's another election, their constitution could be rewritten or revoked.

    Better to require at least 60%. You wouldn't be able to pass as many constitutional rules, but those you could pass would have broader appeal.

    The Islamist have come to power partially as a result of many not-so-Islamists who want to see an end to military rule and corruption.

    If they don't maintain their coalition, they may find that in the next election their secular brothers decide to vote for military rule--deciding that's preferable to living in a theocratic state.

    If the 51% can subject everyone to their rules, then when someone else comes to power, they will use the same logic and may wash away everything that you've done.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 10, 2012 9:53 AM
    it is over .moersi made has made his mind such as bashier in Sudan ,mullah Omar in Afghanistan. I will not surprise that each one in Egypt is going to kill each other. I will not surprise that large scale of instability will cause serious war in middle east . the prophecy of666 is about to fulfill . now you can figure out who is 666

    by: Edo from: New Mexico
    December 10, 2012 9:33 AM
    Was religion created by man to subjugate women? I think they should reverse sharia law to apply to men and see how religious they remain.

    by: Steve Martin from: Edison NJ
    December 10, 2012 8:06 AM
    What we need to do is shut down voice of america to save money. This Government service is no longer needed . It will help reduce the deficit. Private enterprise already fills this slot.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.