Friday, January 10, 2014

Support for Egypt's New Constitution seems to be coming together

Hard-line Islamists and old-regime stalwarts are united in an unlikely alliance to back Egypt's draft constitution ahead of next week's referendum, which supporters hope will lend legitimacy to last summer's popular military coup. 
The document, drafted by a 50-member committee selected by the military, looks in some ways similar to the 2012 charter that was largely written by Islamists. But unlike that charter, which the military cast aside in July, along with the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, the latest draft empowers the armed forces, police and the judiciary—institutions considered hostile to Islamism—and eliminates articles that favored Islamists.
Nader Bakkar, a spokesman for the Islamist Nour Party, who sat on the previous drafting committee in 2012, acknowledged his party's support for the draft constitution is more practical than ideological. If, as expected, the constitution passes in the referendum, scheduled for Jan. 14, it will clear the path for parliamentary and presidential elections in which the Nour Party could reposition itself in the opposition, he said.
Officials in the interim regime have touted the support of the Nour Party as a testament to their commitment to inclusion, in an effort to turn attention away from the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that has led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people and the imprisonment of thousands more. 
Some say the Nour Party will be critical to securing a high turnout and what they hope will be a minimum 75% "yes" vote in the referendum, besting the 66% approval the so-called Brotherhood constitution won in 2012. 
But the document could present an existential threat to political Islam, effectively banning political parties based on religious identity.
The Nour family's advertising campaign conveys a hostility toward Islamists, linking them with a wave of terrorist attacks and other violence that the state has pinned on the Muslim Brotherhood without offering evidence publicly. In recent weeks, Mr. Nour's company rolled out a new television ad series that boldly associates a "yes" vote in the referendum with rejection of Islamist terrorism. 
One advertisement shows a young Christian girl who was shot in front of a church last summer by unknown assailants. The ad cuts to text that reads "terrorism has no religion," then a message encouraging Egyptians to vote "yes" in the referendum.
Read the full story HERE.

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