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Egypt votes on divisive reforms
BBC ^ | Monday, March 26, 2007

Posted on 03/26/2007 1:52:35 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak speaks in parliament. File photo
Mr Mubarak wants to change election and terror laws

Egyptians have begun voting in a key referendum on constitutional changes which the opposition criticise as paving the way for a police state.

The 34 amendments include a ban on the creation of political parties based on religion, and sweeping security powers.

The government says the changes will deepen democracy in the country and help in the fight against terrorism.

Secular and Islamist opposition groups have called on supporters to boycott the referendum.

If approved, the changes will allow the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law to replace the emergency legislation in place since 1981, giving police wide powers of arrest and surveillance.

They will ban the establishment of religious parties, allow the adoption of a new election law and do away with the need for judicial supervision of every ballot box.

Basic freedoms

Voting began at 0600 GMT, although a number of the country's 10,000 polling stations were reported to have opened late. About 36m people are registered to vote.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed in Cairo.

President Hosni Mubarak and other government officials say the changes will give a boost to democratic practice in the country.

Egyptian parliament members demonstrate in Cairo
Opposition lawmakers say the changes will undermine basic rights

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says for many in the opposition this is a black day in Egypt's history as they say the changes spell the death of the constitution as the main guarantee of liberties and democracy.

The opposition says the changes will consolidate dictatorship, and that watering down judicial supervision of elections will make fraud easier.

They are also deeply uneasy about the wording of the articles on the new anti-terrorism law because it will be possible to bypass the constitutional guarantees protecting basic freedoms.

The new constitution appears designed to reverse the advances made in the last election by the Muslim Brotherhood, now the country's largest opposition force, our correspondent says.

Human rights group Amnesty International has called the changes the greatest erosion of human rights in 26 years.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africa; arab; arabs; eastafrica; egypt; freedom; islam; mubarak; muslim; muslimbrotherhood; muslims; northafrica; sharia

1 posted on 03/26/2007 1:52:36 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu
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To: rusty millet; happygrl; Dominick; cricket; americanbychoice3; padre35; Fiddlstix; WLR; ...
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2 posted on 03/26/2007 1:54:00 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
The left has so diluted the language that many times it is hard to make an informed opinion with reference to political events.
I mean, no one wants a "Police State" (I hope).
But isn't that what the left said about W?
As of today, it would appear the Patriot act has in fact made us safer, and the left said this was a Police State.
In summary, it becomes difficult to make an opinion when, in essence, your dealing with a bunch of lying b*stards (the media, the left,etc.)

I guess if the muslim brotherhood is against it, I'm for it.
3 posted on 03/26/2007 2:10:01 AM PDT by mikeybaby (long time lurker)
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To: mikeybaby

Some countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, are not ready for political freedom ("democracy"). The same could be typed for a lot of majority Muslim countries.

4 posted on 03/26/2007 2:12:28 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: mikeybaby

" I guess if the muslim brotherhood is against it, I'm for it. "

If Amnesty International is against it, I'm definitely for it!!

5 posted on 03/26/2007 2:33:00 AM PDT by Uncle Ike (Aspiring Guru Seeks Disciples and Admiring Followers -- apply within)
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