Dec 10 2012

Egyptian President Morsi Backs Down But Declares Martial Law, As Protests Continue

Facing pressure from tens of thousands of protesters, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has decided to rescind the overarching powers he had granted himself in the past two weeks. While Morsi has backed down on the decree which would have given him freedom from judicial oversight, he refuses to abandon a constitutional referendum scheduled for December 15th which would elevate Sharia or Islamic Laws allowing gender discrimination and limiting free speech.

Morsi is giving the military unfettered power to arrest civilians in the run up to the referendum vote under the guise of maintaining security. Opposition leaders are adamantly demanding that the referendum be canceled as the constitution was hastily drafted in a late night session by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists who had excluded some secular and Christian members from the process.

If the draft is not approved a new panel would need to be elected to write a new charter which could delay the drafting of an Egyptian Constitution by at least another 10 months.

GUEST: Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies.

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