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Egypt’s Islamists Declare Constitution Victory

As we expected, Egypt’s new constitution, drafted by the Islamist-dominated government, was approved by voters yesterday, the Washington Post reports:

Egyptians have approved a new constitution that will deepen the influence of Islamic law in their country, but will likely lead to further divisions after a month-long political crisis.

Preliminary and unofficial results on Sunday from a two-day national referendum showed the charter passing. The Muslim Brotherhood and state media said that 64 percent of voters said “yes” to the constitution, though the results are not expected to be officially announced until Monday.

Will this finally quiet protestors who have stormed Egyptian streets over the past few weeks? Will it finally provide some stability and security for Egyptians who have been caught in a swirling, never-ending revolution?

“Currently there is no tourism in Egypt,” the owner of a trinket stall told a Post reporter. “The new Islamist government has no experience in managing the state,” he said. “The Islamists care only about their interests, not us. They forget about everyone else.”

The Brotherhood government is struggling with the same problems that have faced previous Egyptian regimes: the economy, most importantly. So far it hasn’t had much success on that front, and there are no guarantees that even with the constitution passed the Brothers will be any more successful in coming months.

This is not a constitution we would want to live under, and Egypt’s Christians are deeply concerned about its implications for their future. These concerns are real; the Middle East used to contain large Christian minorities in many countries. Murder, persecution and emigration have crushed almost all of them in the last 125 years. Egypt’s 8 million or so Christians are looking both lonely and vulnerable. Liberal Muslims are also concerned, and it seems likely that Islamic opinion in Egypt will continue to track toward less tolerant and less modern ideas.

However, the future of Egyptian politics is unlikely to revolve around these concerns. The question will be whether the Brotherhood can jump start the economy or whether, in the continuing absence of prosperity, the authorities will be driven toward a mix of authoritarian rule and more radical religious approaches. On both humanitarian and geopolitical grounds, we must hope that the Brotherhood is able to alleviate the poverty in Egypt and find jobs for the restive, rising generation. The cost of failure would be high.

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