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The Fight over Egypt’s Future

Dec 25, 2012

Secular opponents of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Mursi warned this week that the country was returning to dictatorship, as Egyptians prepared to vote on a divisive, Islamist-drafted constitution. In Cairo, thousands of the president’s mostly secular opponents protested the proposed constitution outside the barricaded presidential palace, saying that the document paves the way for sharia law. “They’re not Muslims, they're extremists,” protester Nihal Amin said of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers. Mursi responded by signing an order allowing the army to arrest protesters. Egypt has undergone weeks of unrest since Mursi issued a decree placing him self and the Islamist-dominated assemilaly drafting the new constitution above judicial oversight. The president withdrew those edicts last week, but only after the assembly finalized its drafts. The opposition urged Egyptians to vote “no” in the Dec. 15 referendum, but vowed to fight on if the charter is approved.

This constitution “lays the groundwork for an eminently unfree future,” said Frida Ghitis in Its  « littered with tiny seeds that can germinate into religious oppression, » declaration that sharia will be the cornerstone of national law and its ban on “insulting prophets and messengers"- clause that could he used to silence opponents.

Obama administration has acted as Mursi’s enabler throughout this crisis said David Ignatius in The Washington Post. It failed to condemn him when he grabbed power through decree, and Obama has stayed silent on this deeply flawed constitution.“It’s crazy for Washington to appear to take sides
 against those who want a liberal, tolerant Egypt and for those who favor sharia. But that’s where administration has ended up. 

Actually, the constitution isn’t that bad, said Bloombergcom in an editorial. It protects against arbitrary arrest, enshrines freedom of association, and limits the president to two 4-year terms. That’s why the “no” campaign is expected to win 30 percent of the vote at best. The document can be amended by  a parliament that will he elected once the constitution is approved. So if the opposition really wants to safeguard democracy, it needs to get its supporters off the street and into office.
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