News / Africa

Egypt Sets Date for Referendum on Constitution

In this image from a live broadcast on Egyptian State Television, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks to the constituent assembly in Cairo on Dec. 1, 2012.
In this image from a live broadcast on Egyptian State Television, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks to the constituent assembly in Cairo on Dec. 1, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has set a date of December 15 for a national referendum on a controversial new constitution that has sparked large protests. The president announced the date after Egypt's Islamist-dominated assembly handed its final draft of the constitution to him late Saturday. The draft retains the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation.

Earlier Saturday, tens of thousands of Islamists demonstrated across Egypt in support of Morsi and the draft constitution. Supporters gathered outside Cairo University and elsewhere, waving Egyptian flags, raising banners and demanding the implementation of what they called "God's law."

Activists from both the Muslim Brotherhood group and the more hardline Salafist Nour Party led the crowd in chants of "the people want to apply God's law." Islamist supporters of Morsi insist the new constitution must be based on Islamic sharia law.

A man holds a copy of the Quran during pro-Morsi rally outside Cairo University, Dec. 1, 2012.
A man holds a copy of the Quran during pro-Morsi rally outside Cairo University, Dec. 1, 2012.

The rump committee that drafted Egypt's proposed new constitution Friday is expected to present the document to Morsi in a matter of hours. Secular and liberal members have withdrawn from the committee, complaining that Islamists are over-represented in the group, and dominating its work.

Sheikh Younes Makhloun, a Salafist member of the constitutional committee, defended its work before the crowd at Cairo University.

Makhloun said what he calls "God's law," or Islamic sharia law, should be the basis of Egypt's legal system, since Egypt is a Muslim nation and must follow the precepts of Islam.

At the same time, a smaller crowd of Morsi's opponents protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square, at times chanting slogans against him and the proposed constitution. Members of 35 secular, liberal and leftist groups that support the protest are continuing a sit-in there, but there was no call for a mass demonstration in the square on Saturday.

Tareq, a young demonstrator, said many people from the opposition stayed away from Saturday's protests to avoid pro-Morsi crowds.

A large crowd of opposition protesters turned out for the groups' million-man march on Tuesday, Tareq said, but concerns about possible clashes with Islamist militants kept many people at home Saturday.

Fighting between supporters and foes of the president and the new constitution broke out early Saturday in Alexandria. Rocks were thrown at an anti-Morsi crowd that had gathered in front of the Qaid Ibrahim mosque in Egypt's second largest city.

A number of Arab analysts say the worries about increased violence are valid. They see the political situation in Egypt as deadlocked, with Egyptian society divided down the middle between support or opposition to President Morsi.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: AmericanMuse from: USA
December 02, 2012 1:14 AM
Religion-based national constitutions or governments are not good for humankind. They are an abomination.

by: Ahmed Rabie from: Texas
December 02, 2012 1:03 AM
To Carol from Louisiana: what is your definition for democracy? Morsi is an elected president in the first free and fair election process in our country (seems ali baba was not following the situation closely). My people chose Morsi with a margin way even far from the margin between Obama and Romney.
second: how do you relate your money with forcing certain form of political structure in our country that satisfy only your standers
Third: we do need US money any more and we build our country ourselves.
Finally: "terrorist" and "terrorism" are totally different words than "Islamist" and "Islam" and I do not have to defend my people or my belief. you are the one who should understand our beliefs if you want to be fair when judge others who differ with you in opinions
In Response

by: Ruben Misrahi from: beachwood, OH
December 02, 2012 1:23 PM
If democracy is nothing but free elections, a referendum to wipe out all Coptics may pass, they're just 10% of the population.

When democracy is reduced to one man one vote, it often becomes also "one man, one vote, one time."

Many nations are not yet ready for democracy, there has to be a process of education that guarantees rights to minorities and women. The Arab Spring may be nothing but a proof that you can use any system to oppress people.

In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 02, 2012 11:15 AM
He was elected by illiterate people whom they will collected by his fanatic organization . there was iregularities in voting ,and his rival file case in the attorney general .the attorney general accept the paper and order for investigation.next day moresy fire the attorney general to stop that investigation .who will elect a person want islam is the law of the land and country move backward into stone age. many muslims are aganist that . three former presidents in egypt .Mubark and Nasser banned muslim brotherhood from particpatin g in politices .the reason is that they know how muslim brotherhood are vicious organization

by: Abu Abdullah from: Saudi Arabia
December 01, 2012 11:40 PM
"Islamists are over-represented in the group" -- the majority of Egyptians voten in the Islamists. That is how their demographics is.

by: Ruben Misrahi from: Beachwood, OH
December 01, 2012 11:16 PM
This comes to show that there is more to democracy than just voting.

by: Carol from: Louisiana
December 01, 2012 5:29 PM
It is time for America to bring home all the dollars being sent to this terroist regime! Congress needs to act immediately.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 02, 2012 2:07 AM
i agree with you.please write to your senator.write to obama whom refuse to stop aids to egypt .in addition ,he proposed given Egypt other 1.5 billion .i do not know why. to support a terroist regime

by: ali baba from: new york
December 01, 2012 4:48 PM
the Referndum is phoney. who will vote . only the illiterate and fanatic and the result will be fabricated . like the election is phoney .how many times moersey use deception and liar to achive his gool .moresy is actiong as a person who refuse to understand . he knows that ecnomic crisis .he knows unempolyment .he knows that tourism generate a lot of jobs and money. he knows that political and religion fanatic will alienate tourism . he does not care about that. he does not care about minority right . he want the country to change to an islamic state on the expenses of disaster

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs