Middle East

Egyptian press debates constitution referendum results

Women protest the new constitution in Cairo
Image caption Opponents of the new constitution fear the ushering in of Islamic law through weakening of human rights

Egyptian press and commentators are divided over the approval of a disputed new constitution in a referendum.

Some commentators feel the new constitution will further divide Egyptian society and may lead to more chaos.

However, the new constitution had some takers among the press as well, who hailed the referendum's results.

And a section of the press showed no interest in the referendum, commenting on the country's worsening economy instead.

Chaos ahead

Hilmi al-Jazzar from the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed the new constitution, questions whether its approval constitutes the end of a phase or the beginning of a new one.

In the independently-owned Al-Watan, he writes: "The phase of constitutional vacuum is about to end, and with it the political debate about all constitutional declarations will end." But, Hilmi al-Jazzar goes on, "a new political conflict is about to start", this time involving those members of the opposition who are opposed to the constitution and those who are prepared to live with it.

The commentator also urges the opposition groups to acknowledge the choice of the people, but expects the conflict to extend throughout the upcoming parliamentary elections.

In the same paper, former Muslim Brotherhood member Muhammad Habib comments on what may follow the referendum results.

He says: "He who believes matters will proceed smoothly is mistaken. The reasons for congestion, tension and conflict persist. The breaches and irregularities during the referendum will make the situation worse."

Pro-constitution

Ismail Ibrahim in the state-owned Al-Ahram al-Masai satirises the opposition which is calling for the new constitution to be abolished after the majority of voters approved it.

Addressing them, he says: "Those who participated in the referendum did not do so because the Muslim Brotherhood or religious groups gave them the choice, as some claim, between heaven and hell. They voted because they want to end a phase which threatened to make the country collapse over everybody's heads."

In the official Al-Ahram newspaper, Muhammad Jamal Hishmat calls on Egyptians to focus on the coming period.

He says: "After the constitutional referendum ended with more than two-thirds of voters saying yes, everyone should look forward to what they may do in the coming period; even if it is to amend articles of the constitution. It is time the Egyptian revolution moved forward to achieve its targets."

Writing in the Muslim Brotherhood's mouthpiece Al-Hurriyah wal Adalah, Asma Muhammad Ziyadah congratulates the Egyptian people on their "great new constitution".

She says: "The only people who would have benefited from the constitution not being approved are the remnants of the former regime who want the political, judicial and media authorities to be a field for their corruption, as the homeland is not in their minds and consciences."

Economic woes

Concern is also growing in Egypt's press over the country's failing economic fortunes. A bold red headline on the front page of state-owned Al-Ahram is about the "fear in the street" over economic insecurity.

Writing in the paper, Safwat Qabil urges politicians to leave the economy out of their squabbles. "The later we start treating the economic crisis, the more severe the treatment will be," he warns.

Independent Al-Watan ridicules Islamists' proclamations that the new constitution would bring prosperity to Egypt: the paper's main headline says stability will only be achieved once there are enough dollars.

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