12/17/2012, 00.00
EGYPT
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New Constitution splits Egypt. And Salafists

by André Azzam
Still waiting for referendum results on text which will be voted on next December 23 in 17 other provinces. But fraud is considered almost mandatory by most voters, most of whom, however still cast their ballot. The opposition united against President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and criticize text (which discriminates against anyone who is not a Brotherhood member) even splitting radical Islam.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Everywhere in the streets people agree that Egypt is divided as never before. Lots of people are mourning the peaceful and tolerant Egypt, fearing what could happen when the country will be the stronghold of the brotherhood and not anymore the land of peace and hospitality. A general atmosphere of pessimism is dominating the Nile Valley where most of the population miss deeply the famous slogan of Saad Zaghloul, who died one year before the creation of the muslim brotherhood by Hassan al Banna : ''Religion is for God, and  Homeland is for all'' !

Saturday 15th December 2012. Elections started this morning for the referendum about the new Constitution in ten of the most populated governorates (provinces), Cairo, Alexandria, three in the Delta (Sharqeyya, Gharbeyya, Daqahleyya) three in Upper Egypt (Assiout, Sohag, Asswan), plus North and South Sinaï, representing 50 million inhabithants, while the other seventeenth govenorates, among which Giza, Qalyoubeyya (northern and western part of Grand Cairo), four other in the Delta (Menoufeyya, Behayra, Kafr al-Shaykh, Damietta), three on the Suez Canal (Port Saïd, Ismaïleyya, Suez), two on the sea shore (Marsa Matrouh, on the Mediterranean sea, and the Red Sea governorate) and six in Upper Egypt (Fayyum, Bani Souayf, Minya, Qena, Louxor and New Valley), representing the other 40 million of the Egyptian population, will vote next saturday.

President Mohammad Morsi came early in the morning in Heliopolis to vote as soon as the electoral bureaux opened at 8.00. People were very much astonished to meet him there as he resides in the Fifth Compound on New Cairo settlements, quite far away East of Heliopolis, where states the presidential palace.

Armed and police forces are in number around the voting places to ensure order and maintain discipline. In fact crowds of people were around all voting bureaus all the day long and no incident at all happened. The great majority seemed doubtful about the truthfulness of the results. Most of the supporters of refusal to the Constitution proposed expressed their conviction that the results shall be distorted, but still they want to fulfil their electoral duty. Some others were leaving the huge lines saying it is useless... Some others expressed their desire to vote yes in order to avoid having back the ''fouloul'' (people from Moubarak's regime)...

In fact discussions were running in the lines about the presence of judges or not. A lady voter asked the man in front of the poll if he was really a judge and he was ready to show her his I.D. but she answered that she was believing him. In fact, nobody knows the amount of judges present in the voting bureaus. The High Commission for Elections stands with an amount of 6376 judges, while the Judges Federation says that it does not exceed 5500, while newspapers write down that the Muslim Brothers are ready to fill up  the gaps...

One terrible incident happened by the end of Saturday when the offices of Al Wafd Party, where is located as well the daily Wafd newspaper have been savagely attacked and damaged by fire. Al Wafd accused immediately the salafist group of Hazem Abou Ismaïl, former candidate to the presidency who denied its responsibility of this act.

The voting time was fixed from 8.00 am until 7.00 pm. Many bureaus had to prolungate the time for two hours and sometime until 11.00 pm. In some places, people have been reported in the evening to wait for five to six hours, most of them finding themselves forces to withdraw. Some people complained to have been obliged to drive back because obviously they intended to vote for ''no''. For the first time the voting happened without outside observers.

Most of the newspapers have printed huge headlines titles with enormous ''No'' (in Arabic 'Lâ'). The 'Wafd' newspaper, speaking in the name of the Wafd Party (created by the leader Saad Zaghloul after the 1919 revolution) publish a double page for cover of today issue, a real poster, with in big the portrait of a child crying and in gross letters : ''No to an unfair constitution. A Constitution that ignore 3 million unemployed people, 7 million living in shantytowns, 10 million suffering from liver disease, 25 million workers suffering from poverty, 348 million girls and mothers. A Constituton that creates a new Dictator. A document that is reducing the people into slavery, that is destroying the State administrations, that is threathening social justice, discriminating women, children and handicaped people, that is hindering private and public liberty, that is infecting and corruptng justice. No to the Constitution of Shame...''

The ''Destour'' daily is calling for ''No to a constitution that deprives the citizen of a free information and an independant press and media''. This newspaper is calling for abstention because : 1- the result is known in advance, it will be more than 78 %  through forgery ; 2- no supervision by enough judges, leaving the space to the brotherhood ; 3- the brotherhood owns all the needed apparatus and funds to control all the executive power in all the governorates, adding : this brotherhood is a gang, they are not statesmen and they will never abandon Egypt unless destroyed''. All the newspapers, except what is called ''national press'' (belongig to the state), agree that this constitution is ''their constitution'' (the one of the muslim brothers).

The fact of having organized the elections  in two days with a week between is suspicious to everyone, since the results of today will be known and possibly readjusted in the second time. General confidence is dominating that forgery will reign.

Yesterday, for the Friday midday prayer  in the mosques, many preachers were inciting people to say ''yes'' to the Constitution. In Alexandria in the big mosque of Qaëd Ibrahim, a group of believers took the preacher in hostage for twelve hours to teach him not to involve politics into prayers. In Mahallah al Kobra, the big textile town in the midst of the Delta, which declared refusal to host any muslim brother in the town, and decided the dissidence (a town delegation was seen a few days ago in front of the presidential palace in Heliopolis with a banner saying ''Here is the temporary seed of the Mahallah al Kobra embassy'' !!) prevented any preacher to advocate for 'yes'. In Kafr al Shaykh, peasants had a funeral march all raising black banners. A few days ago, aroun Tahrir square one could see a funeral march of women all dressed in black, mourning for lost Egypt...

A salafist leader, Dr Ahmad al Naqib, head of the salafist Academy in Mansourah (Daqahleyya, North East of the Delta, douth of Damietta), and teacher of Islamic studies in Mansourah University is claming for a rejection of the suggested constitution, considering that saying ''yes'' is sinful towards God (Allah) and his Prophet, and asking salafist people not to get involved in political and democracy work. While the salafist Hazem Abou Ismaïl, who is besieging the ''Media Producing Town'', northwest of Giza for two weeks and wants to ''purify'' all the satellite media, is stating that if the constitution is not approved by the referendum, there will be a real bloodshed. Two eminent and well known figures, the famous film maker director Khaled Youssef and the great sociologist  Saad Eddine Ibrahim have been attacked and molested as they were entering the Media Town. Both of them deposed a report statement accusing Hazem Abou Ismaïl and his followers to have attempt to kill them.

Yesterday evening, at an official TV channel there was a strong confrontation between a Shaykh from Al Azhar university and a salafist shaykh who shared in writing the constitution. Al Azhar member asserting that the constitution would lead to terrible problems, that it is discriminating minorities, and that one should refuse it. The salafist was doggedly defending the constitution and refused discussion upon any item.

The constitutional assembly had one hundred members, of whom 40 people (liberals, representant of the churches, experts...) refused to go on, they were replaced by twenty people and the redaction work proved to be a botched job. The assembly pushed through the red tape in a couple of days, dedicating five minutes maximum to each article. The members of the assembly were mostly medical doctors, people with BA in agriculture or commerce, even one teacher in the school of languages teaching Chinese language ! Some people reacted joking : this is why the text is confused ! In fact the constitution text had to be ready before the 2nd of December, because the Constitutional Court intended to pronounce on this date a judgement of invalidation for the Constituant assembly as well as for the Maglis al Shura (Senate) which will act as a parliamentary body to approve the proposed text. It was ready by the 1st of December and legally, the referendun had to be held after a fortnight.

The enormous demonstrations since than to revoke the referendum have failed to induce any change. The brotherhood organized counter-demonstrations that resulted in splitting the country in two parts, and provoking fierced and bloodshed incidents. Evidently the brotherhood could not gather as much crowds as the opponents, composed of liberals, supporters of a secular system, even muslim devoted people, and salafists... In fact the difference in the huge crowds was made but what is called since the 25 January revolution, the ''hezb al canaba''  or the ''Sofa party'' related to the majority of Egyptian people who were watching events at home sitting on their couches (canapés - canaba, in Arabic). This time the ''Sofa party'' came out in great number, along with all the disappointed people who did vote for Morsi, believing in a better situation for the country. Everybody discovered that Mohammad Morsi is first of all the president of the muslim brothers. Many observers stated that he is a ''puppet'' manipulated by the the muslim brothers Guide Badie and his assistant, Khayrat al Shater who was the nominee of the brotherhood for presidency, but could not be a candidate because of judiciary reasons.

Many opponents are adressing their gratefulness to Mohammad Morsi, ''because in only six months, he succeeded to get all the opponents gather and unite against him and against the grasp hold of the muslim brotherhood''.

 

 

 

 

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