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 Secular and liberal members have withdrawn from the committee, complaining that Islamists are over-represented in the group, and dominating its work.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.

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Comment Sorting
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 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

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