Jan 15 2014
It might seem puzzling why Egyptians who ousted the repressive 30 year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak through massive street protests are now at the polls voting on a new constitution which would grant increased powers to the military, police and judiciary. But it might make more sense knowing that this new constitution is the product of a military coup which removed democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi from power. General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the coup’s chief orchestrator who now has aspirations for the Presidency has stifled all political dissent in the country. Critics are questioning the validity of the constitutional referendum.
Meanwhile, seven members of a moderate Islamist party called Strong Egypt were arrested in the weeks running up to the referendum for putting up posters which criticized the charter constitution. The Muslim Brotherhood, many of whom have been imprisoned since the coup have boycotted the vote. The state run media however, has whole heartedly endorsed the constitution.
Although the Carter Center has refused to monitor the voting due to the stifling of dissent by the military, another group funded by the US Government called Democracy International is on the ground overseeing the referendum vote. So far 11 people have died in clashes between security forces and Morsi’s supporters during the two-day vote.
GUEST: Noha Radwan, associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature at University of California at Davis. She was born in Egypt and was among the participants in the 18-day Tahrir protests in early 2011.