News / Africa

Egyptian Panel Approves Draft Constitution

Members of the constitutional assembly attend a session to vote on a final draft of a new Egyptian constitution in Cairo, Egypt, November 29, 2012.
Members of the constitutional assembly attend a session to vote on a final draft of a new Egyptian constitution in Cairo, Egypt, November 29, 2012.
VOA News
An Islamist-dominated panel has approved Egypt's new draft constitution that must now be voted on in a nationwide referendum.  

The panel, boycotted by several Christian and liberal members, has retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation. The group hastily rushed through the approval of the 234 articles in a meeting that lasted from Thursday afternoon until until early Friday.

The assembly moved up the vote in order to pass the draft before Sunday, when Egypt's highest judicial power is expected to rule on whether to dissolve the panel.

Mohamed Morsi's November 22 Declaration

  • Reopens investigations into killings of protesters
  • Makes decrees issued by Morsi since he took office final and not open to appeal
  • Allows Morsi to appoint prosecutor-general
  • Gives Constituent Assembly two extra months to draft a constitution
  • Says no judicial body can dissolve the upper house of parliament or the Constituent Assembly
Over the past few days, about 30 liberal and Christian members pulled out of the panel to protest what they called the hijacking of the process by Islamists loyal to President Mohamed Morsi.

The Egyptian leader caused a political uproar last week when he granted himself sweeping new powers that bar the judiciary from challenging his decisions. Mr. Morsi told state television Thursday the decree will end immediately after people vote on the constitution.

Egyptians angered by the president's power grab have protested for more than a week. Two people have been killed and hundreds injured in the nationwide demonstrations.

  • Protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2012.
  • Protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2012.
  • Merchants sell bread to protesters, some of whom have camped out in tents since last week, as opposition groups plan to gather for a rally in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2012.
  • Youths climb a wall that was built by police to prevent clashes between protesters and police at Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 29, 2012.
  • Youths walk next to a pirate flag on display by a street vendor in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 29, 2012.
  • Riot police and protesters throw stones at one another during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • Protesters run during clashes with police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • A protester carries stones to throw at the police during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • A protester reads the Wafd, a local newspaper next to tents occupied by protesters in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • A shot of Tahrir Square in Cairo as night falls, November 27, 2012. (J. Weeks/VOA)
  • Egyptian security forces arrest a protester during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 27, 2012.
  • An Egyptian protester blows a stadium horn as he gestures at a cordon of security forces near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 27, 2012.
  • A protester throws stones at riot police during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo November 26, 2012.
  • Egyptians attend the funeral of youth activist Gaber Salah, also known as Gika, at the Omar Makram mosque in Cairo, November 26, 2012.
  • An Egyptian protester runs during clashes with security forces near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, November 25, 2012.

Egyptians continued protests in Tahrir Square against Mr. Morsi for a seventh straight day Thursday, accusing him of assuming dictatorial powers. Clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police launching tear gas canisters continued.

Opposition leaders said they planned to hold more marches Friday, and the Muslim Brotherhood has called a rival nationwide demonstration in support of the edict Saturday.

Meanwhile, the constitutional court vowed to resist what it characterized as an attempt by Mr. Morsi to undermine the court system. Egypt's highest courts went on strike Wednesday in protest of the president's decrees, vowing to stop their work until the constitutional court rules on Mr. Morsi's order granting himself immunity from judicial review.

Mr. Morsi is expected to put the draft constitution to a public referendum as early as mid-December.

Watch related video of anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir Square

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Comments page of 2
by: TFCFM from: Philadelphia, PA
November 30, 2012 2:22 PM
Sitting within sight of Independence Hall, where the U.S. Constitution was approved 230+ years ago, I find that the contrast between that approval process and Egypt's couldn't be much more stark.

The race by non-boycotting members of Egypt's Constitutional Assembly to try to beat a court ruling on the Assembly's continuing legitimacy seems farcical. What's the hurry if the Assembly's approval process is legitimate?

I suppose the real test is yet to come. President Morsi's declaration of incontestable authority may be put to the test if Egypt's court system faults the Assembly's efforts to spit out a draft constitution prior to the court's ruling. Should that happen, we'll see if President Morsi stands with the People of Egypt or with the pro-islamist assemblymen who rushed to enshrine Islam in the political constitution of Egypt.

by: david lulasa from: tambua,hamisi,vihiga,keny
November 30, 2012 5:11 AM
mursi needs absolute supreme authority to save christian copts in egypt and other non muslim groups..judges havent been able to save these kind s of people.

In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
November 30, 2012 7:10 PM
how he saves them ? he adoted a law that allow each fanatic to be prosecutor and executor.

by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
November 30, 2012 1:21 AM
As a former enthusiastic supporter of the "Arab Spring", particularly of the Egyptian Revolution, I am disappointed to see the "Spring" transformed into a dark Winter and the Revolution hijacked by the Islamo-fascists. The Egyptian people deserved something better.

by: Antonio from: PNW
November 29, 2012 7:56 PM
Hmm, where's the Womens in the room? All those seats should be FULL at this point in Egypts history.

by: Rusty from: Australia
November 29, 2012 7:30 PM
When will the Arab world understand that Religion and Politics simply do not mix.
Mixing the two ingredients put any country years behind civilization and the modern way of life.
This has always been and still the intention of the Arab leaders to kill the democracy in order to cement their power
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
November 30, 2012 7:18 PM
i agree with you.politices and religion can not co exist. moresy know that and he choose religion aganist the will of the people. he knows how these fanatic the past ,they kidnapped children.they rape gils. impose ransom for christain .now he put the shria as the law of the land . these fanatic will use that law as a tool to get away with murder. the tragdey is not folded

by: Isis from: Australia
November 29, 2012 7:29 PM
Another dictator and this one has a beard. When will Egypt learn that freedom and democracy is not in the hands of a figurehead but in the hands of the people. It saddens me to see how this controversy continues to destroy their major industry which is tourism.

by: Democrat from: London
November 29, 2012 7:04 PM
What a surprise!

by: Mazza from: Australia
November 29, 2012 7:04 PM
Once a state goes down the path of Islamic law as the fundament of their legal system, then by definition then begins to exclude democracy (not a facet of modern Islamic Law), religious freedom (excluded in modern Islamic Law), gender equality of any stature (not a facet of modern Islamic Law).

This creates a theocracy, which is a dictatorship format which invests complete and utter state controls in the highest religious leader, and the government is subject to religious leader instructions and decrees.

You may vote for a government, but they are only the administrators of Law as decreed by the religious leadership, who are not subject to any vote by the public.

Many groups and individuals around the globe and in Egypt who advocated and supported the manner of overthrow of the previous regime should now serously consider the ramifications of the manner of the overthrow.

Revolution seldom if never brings freedom to the people, it brings in a military government who came to power via leveraging off the resulting power vacuum.

And no one was more prepared for this power assumption than the Muslim Brotherhood, who despite all claims to the contrary, did ant and did assume power, and have immeditely moved to install Islamic Law.

The Egyptians will now experience what it is to live under a complete autocratic rule that excludes almost all of the freedoms they strove and fought for.

by: Michael Collins
November 29, 2012 6:59 PM
The US is not saying anything right now because the thing they value the most is a stable relationship between Egypt and Israel.

Morsi may have a point about Mubarek's cronies in the judiciary trying to undermine the revolution. If he want's support from liberals and non-muslims to side with him against the courts, he's got to convince them that he's going to govern with an even hand.

by: Rio
November 29, 2012 6:39 PM
Just as the prophet Mohammed turfed out the leaders of Mecca, so too did the majority Islamic nations in his footsteps and turf out leaders in their own countries, only then to be replaced with a new dictators to topple, and so on and so on and so on ad nauseum in this endless Islamic cycle of revolution. Who says history doesn't repeat itself?
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