Sunday, December 23, 2012

Defeat would be a blow to Islamic state

WHETHER or not the opposition boycott is carried out, the Muslim Brotherhood is confident it has enough support to win the referendum, which will be decided on a straight majority. It believes the liberals represent a minority view and that most Egyptians are happy to see the emphasis on Islam that runs through parts of the draft.
''The seculars and liberals are mobilising people to bring down the Islamic state,'' said Mohammed Bishawi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, at a rally at the organisation's headquarters on the outskirts of Cairo.
Mr Bishawi said the wave of opposition to the President, Mohammed Mursi, in the past two weeks, since he announced his new powers, was ''manufactured by the media''.
''We, the Islamic powers, chosen by democratic election, want to prove to the world that the Egyptian people are with President Mursi and their new constitution,'' he said. ''The liberals don't have any real existence on the street.''

The opposition risks making itself look irrelevant if the constitution is passed by a large majority. But if the Brotherhood loses the referendum or has a low turnout, it will be a blow to its assumption that political Islam is the dominant voice of Egyptians.
Defeat would also suggest the public accepted the opposition view that the Brotherhood is showing increasingly authoritarian tendencies.
If there is a ''no'' vote in the referendum, a constitutional assembly of 100 members would have to be elected within three months, and a constitution agreed within six months and put to a referendum within a month after that. Only then can there be elections, by which time the Brotherhood may have lost the popularity it had when it won elections earlier this year.