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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid