Group of Christian women banned from voting in Egypt’s referendum
A group of Egypt’s Christian women voters were banned on Saturday in Cairo’s Nasr City from casting their ballot in a disputed constitutional referendum, an Al Arabiya correspondent and AFP reported.
Nasr City was the scene of mass rallies last night as Islamists who support President Mohammed Mursi took to the streets.
Details of banning Coptic Christians from voting are not immediately available, but earlier the opposition National Salvation Front was quoted by AFP as saying that a judge in Nasr City forbade Christians from casting their vote.
On November 30, the draft constitution was passed by an assembly composed mostly of Islamists, in a marathon session, despite a walkout by secular activists and Christians from the 100-member panel.
If the constitution is approved by a simple majority of voters, the Islamists who gripped powered after Mubarak’s ouster would gain even more clout in the country. The current upper house of parliament, which is dominated by the Islamists, will be given legislative authority until a new parliament is elected.
If the constitution is refuted, elections would be held within three months giving a new panel the right to draft a new constitution. In the meantime, legislative powers would remain with the Egyptian President.
The opposition has called on its supporters for a “no” vote, while Mursi’s supporters say the constitution will help put an end to the political instability currently gripping Egypt. On the other hand, Muslim clerics defend the constitution as a document that champions Islam.
Mursi’s opponents, however, say minority concerns have been ignored and the charter is full of obscurely worded clauses that could allow the ruling Islamists to restrict civil liberties, ignore women’s rights and undermine labor unions.
“At one point in our history, Cleopatra, a woman, ruled Egypt. Now you have a constitution that makes women not even second-class but third-class citizens,” this is that Olivia Ghita a prominent businesswoman declared. Adding, “This constitution is tailored for one specific group (the Muslim Brotherhood). It’s a shame. I am very upset.”