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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora