News / Middle East

    Islamist Nour Party Walks Out of Egypt's Constitution Talks

    Egyptian 6th of April movement members protest against the renewal of the state of emergency during a demonstration in downtown Cairo, Sept. 16, 2013.
    Egyptian 6th of April movement members protest against the renewal of the state of emergency during a demonstration in downtown Cairo, Sept. 16, 2013.
    Reuters
    Egypt's second biggest Islamist party on Monday walked out of a committee amending the constitution, to protest against moves to curb the influence of Islam in state affairs.

    The Salafist al-Nour party, which backed the army's overthrow of the more moderate Islamist Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July, said it was not quitting the committee, but wanted to show its anger.

    Amending the constitution pushed through by Morsi last year is part of the plan to return Egypt to elections after the army ousted the government on July 3, installing an interim administration.

    Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, once Egypt's biggest Islamist group, is now the target of a sweeping security crackdown and has no representative on the constitutional committee. The government said it had declined an offer to join.

    At least 2,000 Islamist activists, mostly linked to the Brotherhood, have been arrested and accused of terrorism or murder since the ouster of Morsi, who has also been jailed. More than 1,000 people have died in unrest since the ouster, mostly protesters killed by security forces.

    Bassam al-Zarka, deputy head of Nour, left Monday's meeting, but had not quit the 50-member committee, Shabaan Abel Alem, a party official and former parliamentarian, told Reuters.

    “Dr. Bassam had suggestions about the articles related to Islamic identity but was surprised to find his opinion not even written in the session's minutes and completely ignored,” said Alem. Nour remained on the committee, he said, and would continue to press its point of view.

    “We had reservations about the committee and its improper representation of the state's powers from the start, yet we decided to join as we are pro-negotiations as a way to implement our goals,” said Alem.

    Despite the government's promise of fair representation for all segments of society, the committee has very few members from the Islamist parties that swept all elections after a revolt toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

    The army's plan set 60 days for the committee, that started this month, to complete its work. The constitution will then be put to a referendum, leading to elections next year.

    A draft containing possible amendments for the new constitution, leaked to the media last month, showed a desire to decrease the influence of Islamic laws and ease rules banning officials from the Mubarak era from running for office.

    It also suggested restoring a voting system, used under Mubarak, which favored individuals over parties and which would hamper the chances of organized groups like the Brotherhood from winning.

    The draft also emphasized the rights of women and children, neglected in Morsi's Islamist-drafted document.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.