News / Middle East

Rivals Clash Ahead of Egypt Constitution Vote

Edward Yeranian
As Egyptians prepare to vote in the first round of a constitutional referendum Saturday, both opponents and supporters of the controversial document were out in the streets to protest.

Supporters of Egypt's new draft constitution were the first to take to the streets of Cairo Friday, congregating in front of a mosque near the presidential palace after midday prayers. Protests were reported in Alexandria, where rock throwing incidents broke out, and Assiout as well.

Morsi supporters rally in Cairo ahead of Saturday's referendum on a new constitution, Dec. 14, 2012.
Morsi supporters rally in Cairo ahead of Saturday's referendum on a new constitution, Dec. 14, 2012.

In the capital, clusters of opponents of the constitution began swelling by mid-afternoon along a nearby boulevard facing the palace.

Large marches from different parts of the capital were set for later in the day. Liberal, Christian and leftist opponents of the new constitution complain that it was voted on in a hurried manner by a committee composed mostly of Islamists.

Secular opponents withdrew from the body after complaining that their voices were not being heard.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the opposition National Salvation Front, has urged President Mohamed Morsi to postpone the referendum, due to begin Saturday and to be staggered over two successive weekends. He calls the constitution “illegitimate” and warns that efforts will continue to have it annulled.

ElBaradei warned Islamists not to try to impose their vision of society on all Egyptians. He said the proposed constitution and the referendum are not legitimate, and that the opposition will continue to use all peaceful, legal and democratic means to stop the constitution.


  • Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans as one holds up the Quran, Islam's holy book, during a demonstration after the Friday prayer, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012.
  • Protesters gather for a demonstration in Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012.
  • Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood chant pro-Mursi slogans during a rally in Rabaa El Adaweya Mosque square in Cairo December 14, 2012.
  • A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi attends a rally in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012. Arabic on the poster at center reads, "yes to the Egyptian constitution."
  • Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi attend rally in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012. Opposing sides in Egypt's political crisis were staging rival rallies on Friday, the final day before voting starts on a contentious draft constitution.
  • Egyptian protesters chant slogans as they attend a demonstration in Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012.
  • Egyptian protesters shout slogans in front of burning cars set on fire during a demonstration calling for a "No" vote in a referendum on a new constitution in the coastal city of Alexandria, Dec. 14, 2012.
  • Protesters play with a ball in front of a tank securing the area around the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012.
  • Soldiers rest in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 14, 2012.

Secular complaints

Secular activists complain the new document leaves the door open to an Islamic state, where laws and civil liberties are determined by Islamic clerics. The new document also gives the president power to neutralize the judiciary by packing the Supreme Constitutional Court with Islamists.

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

A spokesman for the constitutional committee which drew up the document in a marathon overnight session said a referendum is the most fair way to decide the matter. He urged Egyptians not to listen to what he calls "propaganda campaigns" and to vote to express their opinions freely and without pressure.

But on the streets of the capital, opinions are divided.

Analysts say that public opinion appears to be increasingly polarized over the issue

One man, who gave his name as Osama, conceded that the document was not perfect, but said he sees it as a step in the right direction. He said that he's out in the street to say "yes" to the new constitution, not because it is the best constitution, but because it's a step in the right direction.

Another man, Wael, who opposes the document, says it is one-sided and unfair.

"The constitution is something wrong because it's not our opinion about law and justice. It's only justice for the Brotherhood," he said.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Muslim american from: Houston
December 14, 2012 12:05 PM
I am african american and I love the Muslim brotherhood and Salifis and any other group that is with the side of Allah and His Messenger.
May Allah allow his dominate law to pass. There is a bright future for Egypt.
Liberal, Secularist and Christian are all in the Mubarak Taughoot camp. The division within Egypt is living proof of why the Quran calls itself Al-Furqan then Criterion. There are two camps that have emerged the hypocrites and disbelievers on one side opposing Allah and His Messenger and the Believers on the other whom love Allah and His messenger. And Egypt is not the only place that this is taking place.
In Response

by: ben from: USA
December 14, 2012 4:57 PM
Just look at any country that adopts a Islamic theological government. Slower economic growth, lower life expectancy, less rights for women. Just look at Turky over the last decade. Once a secular nation and a rising star now it is falling off the map. not everyone believes the same things you do. And a hypocrite is someone that says something and does another if they are saying they do not support Islam and then they don't support it they are not a hypocrite. Move your family to Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia and when your mother and sisters and your daughters are stripped of the ability to go out in public without a man, cant make their own choice on who to merry let me know how you feel. I am fine with any religion Islam is simply a newer one (the bible condones slavery but modern perception has evolved) and is still evolving. Do you really think forcing people to believe something is an effective way to govern. History has proven that wrong every single time (Nazis, soviets, among others) and they were far far more organized than any Muslim state has ever been.
In Response

by: Free World from: USA
December 14, 2012 4:44 PM
If you take your religion above other religion in order build a nation, you are totally wrong. I guess if you aren't born from a Muslim family, you ain't a Muslim. So, let every citizen has their freedom of choice of their own religion.. No particular religion should be applied to control a nation.
In Response

by: Ash from: Maryland
December 14, 2012 4:02 PM
So...why do you and most immigrants internationally live in the U.S. and seek assylum in western civilised countries?! It is you who is a hypocrite and a liar.

If indeed islam is the better way...you should seek to live under its rule.
In Response

by: Jacky from: Belgium
December 14, 2012 2:52 PM
If they apply strict shariah law tourism will close down and Egypt will lose the one asset they had going for them. Many of your fellow Muslims will lose their jobs and live in poverty. Religion is supposed to bring forth spiritual happiness and enrich peoples lives. It shouldn't be dictatorial , forced on people and create more suffering in the world. Please open your eyes to this and stop walking blind.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 14, 2012 12:33 PM
you should be glad that you live in America, salifs are punch of psychopath who need medical attention and I believe that they are beyond help. Muslim brotherhood are liar and use deception. They are backward .if you like them get the fact and not the fiction. if you got the fact ,I am sure you will convert to chrisitinty

by: Jay Jardin
December 14, 2012 11:56 AM
There is no space for women in the US constitution and you do not see their 300 million people trying to change it. This is more about "my religion is better than yours" than caring for anyone. For many years the US financially supported the tyrant in Egypt. There was a fight for democracy and democracy won, respect the people's vote even if you don't like it.
In Response

by: Nick from: AZ
December 14, 2012 4:21 PM
Women have rights in almost every free country, and the women in Muslim countries know this because of globalization. If those rights were to be taken away in the modern USA, you can be damn sure 300 million people would do something about it.

I bet you could get near 50% in the USA making it a Christian Nation in the current climate, but it's illegal and it would have to sweep the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. In Eqypt right now Islamists have the Executive and overrode the judicial with a "decree" long enough to push this through and force it on the people of Egypt.
In Response

by: Ludwig Yarsdale Bigsby Jr from: New Jersey
December 14, 2012 4:13 PM
That isn't really true. Supreme Court precedent recognizes gender as a protected class in the U.S. Constitution in its interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause, which therefore includes protections for women under the laws. It's part of the Constitution.

Look it up: United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More