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 Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid