News / Middle East

Egypt Casts Ballots for New Constitution

A woman dips her finger in ink after casting her vote in a referendum on Egypt's new constitution, at a school used as a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt, December 15, 2012.
A woman dips her finger in ink after casting her vote in a referendum on Egypt's new constitution, at a school used as a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt, December 15, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Long lines of people formed outside polling stations in the Egyptian capital Cairo Saturday, as voting got under way on a referendum for a controversial new constitution. The vote is being staggered over two successive Saturdays due to a boycott by a majority of the judiciary, which must oversee the vote by law.
A crowd of women sang Egypt's national anthem as they stood in line to vote in Central Cairo Saturday. Men and women voted separately at schools across the capital and 9 other provinces to express approval or disapproval of the new constitution.

Egypt's top opposition leaders, including Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the National Salvation Front, urged supporters to vote "no." Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist "Nour" Party called on their partisans to vote "yes."
​Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who refused to postpone the referendum despite pleas from opposition leaders and much of the judiciary, was shown on state TV casting his ballot near the presidential palace. Morsi was surrounded by a large number of bodyguards.

Clashes erupt
Supporters and opponents of the controversial constitution clashed just hours before polls opened in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. Amateur video showed crowds of young men throwing rocks and firecrackers at each other near the city's Qaid Ibrahim mosque.
The governor of Alexandria, Hassan Prinz, deplored the violence and urged voters to express their opinions at the ballot box.  Prinz  said that every citizen has the right to vote yes or no and we must let the ballot box determine the future of the country, since this is democracy and we must accept it.
Former Arab League head and unsuccessful presidential candidate Amr Moussa was a bit more critical of the democratic process and its potential results.  Moussa said that the opposition did not contest the election of President Mohamed Morsi, but that a constitution is different, because it should be accepted by a large majority of the people to be legitimate.

Divided opinion
Many Arab analysts point to the fact that Egyptian public opinion is extremely polarized over the controversial constitution, which was approved by a rump committee made up of mostly Islamist members, in a marathon overnight session, 15 days ago.
Egypt's Draft Constitution

  • Limits president to two four-year terms
  • Provides protections against arbitrary detention and torture
  • Islamic law, or Sharia, serves as the basis for legislation
  • Religious freedom is limited to Muslims, Christians and Jews
  • Citizens are deemed equal before the law and equal in rights
The pros and cons appeared almost evenly divided, as voters expressed their opinions at a polling station on Manial Island in central Cairo. Ahmed, a civil engineer, said that he opposes the document because of the mostly Islamist composition of the committee.  "The main problem, they always join Islamic rules with the politics," Ahmed noted.  "And we want to separate between these rules, because we have Christian, Muslim maybe some Jewish."
Omar, a virologist, supports the document, because he thinks that it will give Egypt some much needed stability. Omar said that he is in favor of holding the referendum, although he has some reservations about the constitution per se. Omar said that he thinks the vote creates movement in the political process at a time when it is not a good idea to make the transition period longer.
Voting officials extended the election by two hours Saturday because of heavy voter turnout.
The voting has been split into two rounds over two Saturdays, each round covering different regions of the country. 
Voters in 14 Egyptian provinces are due to vote next Saturday. It was not immediately clear when final results would be announced.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Hanno Phoencia from: USA
December 15, 2012 7:49 PM
I've traveled in Egypt, most women there don't wear veils. Looking at the photo, I wonder if those opposed to Sharia law mostly boycotted the election? This isn't democracy, there's no judiciary, no parliament, one man rule, only Islamists making the rules and counting the ballots. They were better off under Mubarak.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs