Youth Coalition condemns religious polarisation during Egypt's constitutional referendum

Ahram Online, Tuesday 22 Mar 2011

Egypt’s Revolution Youth Coalition issues a statement accepting the results of the constitutional referendum, but condemns the religious pressure slogans used to coerce voters

(Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s Revolution Youth Coalition has issued a statement following a constitutional referendum stating it accepts the outcome of a 77.2 per cent “Yes” vote to accept the amendments, considering it represents the views of the people.

The Coalition themselves had campaigned for a “No” to the constitutional amendments, arguing that the 1971 constitution was already null, but it was stated it respects the choice of the majority.

The statement also condemned religious polarisation used during the referendum referring to religious slogans used to coerce voters. The statement insisted that the polarisation should not be between religious and secular camps but between the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces.

Mohamed Osman, member of both the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Coalition, says “it appeared as though the division was between progressive and religious camps, although that was not the case: those who voted ‘Yes’ represented different political affiliations, not just religious. Even within the Coalition the decision to campaign for ‘No’ was decided by one vote difference, 4 voted for a ‘Yes’ campaign while 5 voted for a ‘No.’ ” 

Islamist groups, including the MB, were accused of using religion to coerce a “Yes” from voters, which Osman denies.

The Coalition statement praised the high turnout rate, describing it as proof that the revolution has influenced all of Egypt’s society and people. However, it was disdainful of the lack of organisation, which resulted from a rushed referendum.

Several demands were also put forward by the Coalition to follow the referendum results, including:

  1. The trial of all of the previous regime’s corrupt officials and those responsible for deaths during the revolution
  2. Dissolving the former ruling National Democratic Party and confiscating its assets
  3. Dissolving local administrations and removing their governors
  4. Allowing all freedom rights, including the rights to form parties, organisations and syndicates
  5. The immediate amendment of the laws related to party formation, the practice of  political rights, including those related to parliament and the upper house
  6. Changing chief editors of national newspapers, radio and television officials and heads of state universities
  7. Re-defining the functions of the national security apparatus, withdrawing its rights to arrest and investigating all former state security officials and excluding them from ever working in the agency again
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