News / Africa

Egyptians Protest After Panel Backs Constitution

Elizabeth Arrott
Egyptians protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday for an eighth straight day of demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi, as an Islamist-dominated panel 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, retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation. The group rushed through the approval of the 234 articles in a meeting that lasted from Thursday afternoon until early Friday.

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

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

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 the president.

Morsi went on national television late Thursday to reassure Egyptians that the passage of a new constitution would resolve the current standoff.  He said  the decree granting himself extraordinary powers would end as soon as the constitution was adopted. And he defended the move, saying it necessary to protect the revolution from reactionary forces.

  • Thousands of people gather in Tahrir Square to protest Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's recent consolidation of power, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A protester on Tahrir Square holds up a poster comparing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to former fascist leaders Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A young girl holds an Egyptian flag in Tahrir Square, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Protesters chant slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political wing launched Mohamed Morsi to the presidency, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A protester leads a group of Egyptians in anti-Muslim Brotherhood chants, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • A protester in Tahrir Square holds up a copy of the Koran and a Christian cross, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Protesters in Tahrir Square calling for the Muslim Brotherhood to leave government, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)

But the president's opponents argue the wording on personal rights and freedom of expression and religion opens the possibility for repression.

Realtor Hisham Mahmoud, who came to Tahrir with his teenage daughter and her friend, says the drafters did not represent Egypt. He said that after the revolution, Egypt should have “a more elevated constitution.” He wished a broad section of Egyptian intellectuals had been involved.

Protesters also argue the draft was pushed through to avoid a further showdown with Egypt's judiciary. The constitutional court was set to rule on the legitimacy of the body that wrote the draft Sunday, and appears ready to go ahead.  What that could mean for the legitimacy of the constitution remains unclear.

Growing anger

While many protesters chanted peaceful slogans, the anger of others was palpable. Law student Eid, wearing a mask of the Egyptian flag, called for continued protests.

“We will stay here, not go anywhere," he said. "And tell Mohamed Morsi, you are not the Egyptian president.  You are Ikhwan.  You are a liar.”

The Ikhwan, or Muslim Brotherhood, is planning a counter-rally Saturday in support of President Morsi, who officially broke with the group and its political wing on becoming president.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

Border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared their stories More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tom Mariner from: NY, USA
November 30, 2012 1:11 PM
Egypt had a choice whether to be a country that had elected officials, or a religion that had clerics deciding actions. They decided religion.

Morsi can pretend to grab all the power he wants -- if the Islamic mullahs decide what is and is not a law, he's a figurehead -- like Ahmadinejad.

by: mtatom from: Hesperia, Ca
November 30, 2012 12:13 PM
Although there has been some headway toward bringing democracy to the Middle East, it is in no way close to being "free". The people of this area of the world a predominately tribal, ignorant and fanatical--all of which keep them from evolving into the 21st century.

by: JRB from: Calcutta
November 30, 2012 11:53 AM
Fundamentalism is eating away very fibre of all society & human civilisation.If it is not brushed away,but Neoliberalism & transnational capitalism are swipping younger generation for the lure of glamour,greed. glitz in the name of LPG culture- result in short 10 yrs will be while these religious biggots will hijack our society whereas other group will enjoy - winning,dinning,womanising,gambling,drugs.Egypt had the chance to in the path of culture & humanism. JRB

by: ali baba from: new york
November 30, 2012 11:16 AM
moresy want to divert the egyptian from the main concern. egyptian concern is to improve the ecnomic condition . by adpoted shria law,god will not open the heaven and send fry chicken and french fries. god will not send his angle to build houses for the egyptian who live in the grave yard. moresy is not fit to be the president of hair club. shria law and salfi will put the last nail in egypt coffin
islam is not the solution.it is a prescription for disaster

by: Capn Craig Again from: Chesapeake, VA
November 30, 2012 11:02 AM
So they traded one tyrant for a thousand tyrants. God save their sad souls from their own folly.

This is one step from Sharia Law. Precisely what the Muslim Brotherhood is in it for.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs