Islamists to Rally in Support of Egypt's President
Morsy will be given the new constitution on Saturday
CNN Wire Staff
December 01, 2012
CAIRO (CNN) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was expected to be given the country's new constitution Saturday, a day after its approval by an Islamist-dominated assembly.
The document will be handed to Morsy at 3 p.m. (8 a.m. ET), said Hossam al-Gheryani, the head of the Constituent Assembly. A statement will come from the assembly shortly afterwards, he said, and the official document will be published Sunday in government newspapers.
The 85-man assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution gave its final approval to the document Friday after 21 hours of haggling and the passage of all 234 articles.
Morsy's Islamist allies dominate the assembly, and both critics and observers said they were likely to help consolidate Morsy's power.
Thousands of the president's supporters packed the streets around Cairo University on Saturday ahead of marches organized by Morsy's party, the Freedom and Justice Party. They carried banners with Morsy's photo, waved the Egyptian flag and chanted their support.
Two million-man marches Saturday are intended to bolster Morsy's support after more than a week of protests against him, which saw stones fly, demonstrators and police clash and clouds of tear gas waft through Tahrir Square in central Cairo.
The two pro-Morsy processions were to converge at early in the afternoonon al-Nahda Square in the university's neighborhood, which lies across the Nile River from Tahrir Square.
The Islamists are joined in Giza by 18 groups that have announced their participation in the pro-Morsy rally. Most are religious groups but others are not, such as the Egyptian Revolution's Alliance, the Revolutionary Front to Protect the Revolution, and Coalition of the January 25th Youth.
Opposition factions have renewed their call for continued anti-government protests, which were to start near daybreak. But by noon, Tahrir Square, which was packed on previous days, was relatively empty.
Morsy sparked days of protests last week after he issued an order banning courts from overturning any decisions he has made since taking office.
Many saw it as an overbearing grab for autocratic power. Morsy described it as a necessary move to fight judges loyal to the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak who were blocking progress in government.
Some judges had threatened to disband the constitutional assembly.
After discontent raged over Morsy's decree, the assembly sped up their work, further fueling suspicions of a power grab. Christian, liberal and leftist constituents left the assembly in protest and many were replaced by Islamists.
Some experts saw Friday's vote on the national charter as a move by Morsy to dissolve his own unpopular edict quickly, which he promised would become null and void as soon as a new constitution is in place.
Whether the draft constitution will move Egypt toward being a freer and more open society is still in question, experts say.
Citizens will vote in two weeks to either ratify or defeat it in a referendum.
Some experts see the public vote as a referendum on Morsy's government. Morsy was elected to office in June after the popular uprising in 2011 that toppled Mubarak, but his recent moves increased suspicions of misappropriation of power that began with his narrow election win.
A quick glimpse at the constitution's articles show language dealing with individuals' civil rights, particularly how security forces and the justice system treats them.
There is wording prohibiting arbitrary arrest and detention and ensuring due process, a sensitive topic in Egypt. Mubarak and his loyalists are blamed for jailing and harshly mistreating innocent people in the years before and especially during last year's uprising.
One article stipulates that no one in jail can be interrogated without an attorney present, and if detainees don't have one, the judicial system must appoint one. It says phone conversations, electronic correspondence and other communication cannot be tapped without a warrant.
While the articles sound democratic, the fine print indicates otherwise, some independent rights experts say.
"Moving a flawed and contradictory draft to a vote is not the right way to guarantee fundamental rights or to promote respect for the rule of law," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
He told CNN on Friday that key rights are ignored in the draft.
"It guarantees 'freedom of expression,' but you cannot insult the Prophet. You cannot defame the Prophet," Stork said.
Some critics argue the constitution could move Egypt closer to Sharia law. Mohamed Naeem, a member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said it opens the way for a theocracy.
The preamble includes language pertaining to women, saying they are equal to men but also accentuating their role as mothers.
Heba Morayef, the Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, argued that the language regarding women is too vague. She worries that the mention of women's family role will trump other freedoms.
The United Nations' high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, urged Morsy to reconsider the draft, saying a number of measures contained in it are incompatible with international human rights law.
CNN's Reza Sayah, Amir Ahmed and Ben Brumfield contributed to this report.
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