Islamists hurriedly pushed out Egypt's new constitution early today -- but if they'd hoped that would stem the planned protests over President Mohamed Morsi's power grab, they were very mistaken. An update from Al-Ahram:
An Islamist-led Constituently Assembly, which was given two more months by President Mohamed Morsi to finish its work, surprisingly approved the final draft charter early Friday following a marathon session that lasted more than 15 hours.
According to analysts, the move was intended to placate activists and anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators angry at what they see as Morsi's attempt to impose autocratic rule.
The 61-year-old head of state, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, stirred controversy last week after issuing a decree that shields his decisions from legal challenge and protects the Constituent Assembly and upper house of parliament from dissolution.
Once a draft constitution is approved via popular referendum, Morsi's decree will be cancelled and his legislative powers transferred to a newly-elected parliament.
However, protests showed no sign of abating. Tahrir Square demonstrators, who are pushing for a 'no' vote in the upcoming referendum, believe the draft constitution neither fulfils the aspirations of Egyptians nor achieves revolutionary objectives.
The Islamists, who perhaps thought finalising the constitution earlier than expected would quell popular anger - since it means Morsi would soon relinquish the powers he just assumed - ended up only adding fuel to the fire.
"Egypt will not be forced to choose between a dictatorial declaration and a rushed constitution written by a fraction of Egyptian society," former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, a staunch opponent of the Brotherhood, said after joining protesters in Cairo's iconic square.
"Egypt will not bow down to the will of a few," he added to enthusiastic cheers.
What's in the Islamists' constitution? Better put, who isn't? From NBC:
The Islamist-dominated assembly that has been working on the constitution for months raced to pass it, voting article by article on the draft's more than 230 articles for more than 16 hours. The lack of inclusion was on display in the nationally televised gathering: Of the 85 members in attendance, there was not a single Christian and only four women, all Islamists. Many of the men wore beards, the hallmark of Muslim conservatives.
For weeks, liberal, secular and Christian members, already a minority on the 100-member panel, have been withdrawing to protest what they call the Islamists' hijacking of the process.
..."I am saddened to see this come out while Egypt is so divided," Egypt's top reform leader, Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said, speaking on private Al-Nahar TV. But he predicted the document would not last long. "It will be part of political folklore and will go to the garbage bin of history."