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Egypt's Draft Constitution Ignites More Anti-Morsi Protests

Paige Brettingen |
November 30, 2012 | 10:10 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

An "Anti-Morsi" protest in Cairo (Gigi Ibrahim/Creative Commons)
An "Anti-Morsi" protest in Cairo (Gigi Ibrahim/Creative Commons)

More than 100,000 protesters angrily demonstrated their opposition in Egypt on Friday against a draft constitution that Islamist allies of President Mohammed Morsi had approved without input from liberals and Christians.

Protests are now in their eighth straight day– originally instigated by Morsi giving himself executive power.

According to Voice of America, those on the panel who worked on the constitution "rushed through the approval of the 234 articles in a meeting that lasted from Thursday afternoon until early Friday."

SEE ALSO: Egyptian Assembly Rushes To Draft New Constitution

Morsi appealed to Egyptians on national television later Thursday, assuring them that the new constitution would abate their outrage and that he "expected to call for an almost immediate referendum on the draft constitution to help bring Egypt’s chaotic political transition to a close — 'a difficult birth from the womb of an ancient nation.' "

“We are going to get out of this short bottleneck hugging each other,” he added, reported The New York Times.

But the protests haven't waned since- even at the mosque Morsi attended for weekly Friday prayers.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

  • In his sermon, the mosque's preacher compared Mr. Morsi to Islam's Prophet Muhammad, saying the prophet had enjoyed vast powers as leader, giving a precedent for the same to happen now.
  • "No to tyranny!" congregants chanted, interrupting the cleric. Mr. Morsi took to the podium and told the worshipers that he too objected to the language of the sheik and that one-man rule contradicts Islam.

Reuters reported that many Egyptian judges also fear their independence — which began when former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February 2011 — is at risk.

SEE ALSO: Egypt Votes In Historic Election

"The bulk of the judiciary is good but there are those who are affiliates of the previous regime and the judiciary itself suffers from bribery and corruption," said Sobhi Saleh, a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, to Reuters.

  • Even members of the judiciary admit that Mubarak and his army-backed predecessors whittled away at the system's integrity over decades and were able to buy off some officials.
  • But rights activists and others say Mursi's decree shows his idea of reform is to change personalities, not the institution, opening the way to interference in a new form.
  • "The judiciary is in danger from Mursi's wild adventures," said Abdel Nasser Abou al-Wafa, who was among 250 judges at a raucous meeting in Cairo where just 19 backed Mursi's moves. Others called for strike action by the courts.
  • "There are many judges who backed and benefited from Mubarak's regime but now there is fear the judiciary will be controlled by the Brotherhood," said judge Ahmed Hussein.

SEE ALSO: Judges In Egypt Call For A Strike Against President Morsi

According to The New York Times, human rights advocates have pointed out that little protection is offered in the constitution's draft in regard to religious freedom or women's rights. As far as religion, believers may practice either Islam, Christianity or Judaism, but only those three are guaranteed freedom of worship. Additionally:

  • The constitution calls for freedom from discrimination, but does not specify whether women or religious minorities are protected. A provision on women’s equality was left out to avoid a dispute after ultraconservatives insisted that women’s equality should be qualified by compliance with religious laws.
  • The text also offers no guidance about how to balance its broad protections of freedom of expression against other provisions protecting people or religions from insults. “These contradictions were either intentional or based on ignorance of how rights should be protected, or both,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who tracked the document.

On Sunday, Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to give a ruling that could eliminate the panel that worked on the constitution– the reason for the rushed draft in the first place.


[View the story "Reactions To Egypt's Draft Constitution" on Storify] Find more Neon Tommy coverage on Egypt here.

Reach Executive Producer Paige Brettingen here. Follow her here.



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