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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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: fmc from: USA
November 29, 2012 4:17 PM
Why haven't we heard any expression of disapproval from President Obama?

It's not as if he's never had anything critical to say about the governance of Egypt. When Gadaffi was in charge he was rather vocal. Now he's silent, which makes one wonder why.
In Response

by: fmc from: Hull MA
November 30, 2012 8:42 PM
Sorry, I meant Mubarak.

When Mubarak was mistreating people Obama went to bat. Now that Morsi is in charge Obama is OK with that because he's going to deal with Egypt in the future? He could have dealt just as well with Mubarak.

Sorry, I don't see the difference, other than one being Islamist while the other was not. Two bad guys, only he tolerates one ideology over the other.
In Response

by: Hamdi from: USA
November 30, 2012 6:45 AM
Why not complete seperation of state and religion?
In Response

by: Bill334 from: USA
November 29, 2012 8:27 PM
This conflict between Egyptian freedom and fascism will go through the same process as it has in all other ME countries where Islam has been forcibly imposed. Civil War.

You'll know where the American dear leader stands when the Egyptian Christians are referred to as the 'insurgents' and the US arms the Muslims.
In Response

by: mc from: Canada
November 29, 2012 8:22 PM
Because they had already decided they would be driving for a Gadaffi regime change. They know they might need to deal with Egypt in future so he's keeping quiet.
In Response

by: mudgutz from: London
November 29, 2012 8:08 PM
Gadaffi was in charge of Libya.

by: ali baba from: new york
November 29, 2012 3:42 PM
moresy has made his mind to destroy adapted Islamic law ,it means an end of religion freedom . I feel bad about Christian whom they have to face the dilemma in daily basis when the mentally ill Muslim impose their will on them the . they will have to face the madness of Islam on every single day
In Response

by: reflection from: uk
November 29, 2012 6:33 PM
Ermm..Eygpt has been an Islamic ountry for over 1200 years. There's always been christians there and they have always lived in peace. Stop makiing up rubbish. History speaks for itself.

by: readyrover
November 29, 2012 3:33 PM
As the old song says..."Meet the New Boss..same as the Old Boss" All that has happened is a change in dictators. This is what passes for 'democracy'. How weak, directionless and insecure must a nation be who craves a dictator after having already thrown out another one? Time will tell. Or is time already telling?

by: kevin L from: Alpharetta
November 29, 2012 3:23 PM
That is one scary picture. And we still send them our hard earned money.

by: rgw46 from: world
November 29, 2012 3:10 PM
yep--there ya go..narrow minds...FREEDOM is to practise what you believe..NOT dictating it..

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
November 29, 2012 1:55 PM
There is a false impression conveyed to the readers here, which implies that Islamic Law principles determine all other laws in the new constitution. Add the protester's pictures; add the "dictatorial" adjectives describing Mr. Morsi above, and the report gives the readers the wrong impression that another Islamic Republic like Iran's is in the making in Egypt! I believe that most readers will miss the word "retain" that means "No Change" on Islamic matters in the new constitution," and might wrongfully be left with the impression that Mr. Morsi is about to declare himself a new "Grand Ayatollah" of Egypt! Not so. Islamic values in Egypt are "lite,' not square beliefs like in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Chechnya, and North Mali. Nikos Retsos, retired professor
In Response

by: Bill334 from: USA
November 29, 2012 8:23 PM
Tell ya' what, "Nickos"... if you refuse to recognize the Sha 'ria for what it is then you're nothing more than another propagadist tool. You need to stay retired, "professor," because the world's "kaffir/infidel" population is not as gullible as you would pretend it to be. If Islam behaves, sounds and stinks like a fascist theocracy, then it's a fascist theocracy.

by: Anonymous from: UK
November 29, 2012 11:22 AM
yeah... "constitution"... just like their "dimookracy"... hey its Egypt... and its still Arab...
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