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Egyptian Islamists Claim Victory in First Round Vote

Mon, December 17, 2012

Islamists are claiming victory in the first round of voting for the country’s new constitution, a controversial document that makes Sharia the law of the land and diminishes the rights of women and religious minorities.

Violence has also marred the voting, with reports that Islamists attacked the opposition newspapers offices in Cairo with petrol bombs and birdshot after the polls closed at 11 pm. The day before the referendum, rival factions faced off in the streets of Alexandria with knives, clubs and swords. Violence was also reported against Muslim Brotherhood offices in various cities, with some headquarters being burned.

Reuters reports that the opposition National Salvation Front reported that 60-65 percent of voters in Cairo and other cities had rejected the new constitution, while President Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood allies said that after 1 million votes had been counted, 72.5 percent were in favor.

The next round of voting is scheduled for this upcoming Saturday, December 22. As to why the voting was split between two dates, Andrew McCarthy, writing on PJMedia offers the following explanation:

“Morsi is bifurcating the referendum because it will help the sharia constitution win. Under Egyptian law, the judiciary is supposed to monitor elections. Because the judiciary is one of the remaining institutions in which the secularists and the old regime enjoy at least a toe-hold, many judges have threatened to boycott the referendum. By staggering the election, fewer judges will be needed for monitoring on each day of voting. In addition, in a bifurcated election, the strong Brotherhood network — unmatched by anything the opposition can muster — will concentrate its full get-out-the-vote effort in smaller areas on each election day. When the parliamentary elections were similarly staggered, the Islamists won by an overwhelming 4-to-1 margin.”