News / Africa

Egyptian Expert Predicts Ratification of New Constitution

People cast their votes during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Bani Sweif, about 115 km (71 miles) south of Cairo December 22.People cast their votes during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Bani Sweif, about 115 km (71 miles) south of Cairo December 22.
x
People cast their votes during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Bani Sweif, about 115 km (71 miles) south of Cairo December 22.
People cast their votes during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Bani Sweif, about 115 km (71 miles) south of Cairo December 22.
James Butty
An Egyptian expert says she expects Egypt’s two-day constitutional referendum which begins Tuesday and concludes Wednesday will most likely pass by a wide margin.

Saba Mahmood, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, says if that happens it would be due largely to what she calls the political repression unleashed by the military-backed transitional government against those who disagree with the government.

“I think that it’s going to actually pass and the result is going to be that the new constitution will be ratified by a broad referendum. I think this is the result of the political repression that the military government has unleashed so that most people who disagree with the government are not really going to come out in any great numbers because they are afraid of the political repercussions,” she said.

Mahmood also says the referendum may pass because of what she calls a general nationalist fervor that has gripped Egypt in support of the military.

“It’s not necessarily total. In other words, it doesn’t mean that it has such a majority that today if fair and free elections were held the military junta would win. But on the other hand there is a nationalist fervor in support of the military because of the sheer exhaustion people feel and they want an end to the last three years of instability, Mahmood said.

The interim government has frozen the assets of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the closure of bank accounts, schools and hospitals run by the Brotherhood.

Mahmood says it is too soon to say if the freezing of Brotherhood assets might motivate more people who depend on these services to turn against the referendum.

“I think that since the banning of the welfare social services that the Brotherhood has provided in Egypt, there isn’t enough time for the repercussion of that to be felt. After all, this is a recent development and I think the effect of that ban has yet to be felt sociologically within the body politic,” Mahmood said.

She says except for slight modifications, the new constitution is not too different from the 2012 document approved under the government of now deposed President Morsi.

“For example, Article 2 which regards the Sharia as the source of all legislation in Egypt continues to be in place. Similarly, the restrictions imposed on the right of religious liberties of minorities are pretty much the same,” she said.

However, Mahmood says one dramatic change is the kind of power that the military will now be able to enjoy under the new constitution.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a boycott of the referendum. The Strong Egypt Party also announced Monday that it would boycott the referendum over the arrest of people campaigning against the vote.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim Monday reportedly warned supporters of ousted President Morsi that security forces will use unprecedented force against anyone attempting to disrupt the vote.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with el-Sissi on Sunday and "stressed the importance of a transparent referendum in which all Egyptians have the opportunity to cast their vote freely."

Professor Mahmood says she was not surprised that el-Sissi last week announced that he would run for president if the Egyptian people wanted him to.

“I think it was in the cards before. He has really trying to consolidate his image. When you have a military leader who rises this way, who actually bans all opposition TV channels and publications in news media, who absolutely prohibits any kind of criticism of both his public persona and the military of which he’s a part, then it’s not surprising that he would then want to contest elections. Now what those elections would be, there is going to be another farce,” Mahmood said.

She said it was ridiculous to call the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

“If these are real charges, the only way to be able to prove them would be to bring it not to a military court but to a civilian court, to actually have a free trial and fair trial of the people who have been arrested. But none of that is being done,” Mahmood said.

Butty interview with Mahmood
Butty interview with Mahmoodi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

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 Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

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

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