Egypt Islamists Rush to Approve New Constitution

But opponents unhappy with the document

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 30, 2012 7:17 AM CST

(Newser) – A draft constitution was approved in Egypt this morning after a marathon 16-hour voting session, but liberal, secular, and Christian members of the assembly have been walking out in protest for weeks, leaving Islamists to approve the draft without their input. The move, which was rushed in order to get the draft approved before the court rules on Sunday whether to dissolve the assembly, will likely further inflame tension between President Mohamed Morsi's supporters and the opponents who are angry over his recent power grab. An opposition rally is planned for today, the AP reports.

Opponents say the new constitution, which the Wall Street Journal reports will be put to a national referendum mid-December, could give too much power to Muslim clerics and frequently refers to strict Shariah law, thus restricting freedoms. Women's rights are a particular concern; though the draft declares all citizens equal, one article specifically protecting women's equality was dumped. The revolutionaries did get some of their demands, the New York Times reports, including restrictions on torture and indefinite detention; but the new draft also gives much of the military's power back. Morsi says his new, controversial powers "will end as soon as the people vote on a constitution," Reuters reports.

Members of the constitutional assembly attend a session to vote on a final draft of a new Egyptian constitution in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012.
Members of the constitutional assembly attend a session to vote on a final draft of a new Egyptian constitution in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012.   (AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)
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I am saddened to see this come out while Egypt is so divided. [But] it will be part of political folklore and will go to the garbage bin of history. - Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei

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