Egypt assembly approves constitution, thousands protest


Egyptian Salafists shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the implementation of the sharia (Islamic law) in Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 2, 2012.



Thousands of Egyptians protested against President Mohamed Morsi on Friday after an Islamist-led assembly raced through approval of a new constitution.

According to the Washington Post, analysts said the portions of the constitution made public so far appear to be neither deeply Islamist nor explicitly inclusive. The new document's 234 articles were approved one by one in a session that began Thursday afternoon and went into the early hours of Friday morning.

The assembly was expected to send the charter to Morsi's office Saturday and, in theory, the president would call for a referendum within 15 days.

More from GlobalPost: Egyptian Constitution: Assembly votes on final draft today

Article 2 was an issue of deep importance to many, defining the relationship between Islam and Egyptian law as essentially unchanged from the country's old constitution and leaving it broad enough to allow for individual rights and freedoms, the Post continued.

Liberals, Christians and others who had already quit the drafting assembly said the rushed vote on Friday would further polarize Egyptians, who have been in turmoil since an uprising ended former-President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule 21 months ago, reported CNBC.

"The people want to bring down the regime," chanted protesters in Tahrir Square, according to Reuters.

More from GlobalPost: Egyptian Constitution: Morsi gives Egypt an impossible choice

From Cairo, GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham wrote that "Egypt's politicians are offering their constituents a near impossible choice: either accept a rushed constitution written by Islamists, or accept the kind of authoritarian government Egyptians have fought hard to defeat."

"Since neither choice appeals to a majority of Egyptians, they have instead turned out in large numbers to protest," she added.

Morsi said the decree that gives him sweeping powers and sparked eight days of protests and violence was "for an exceptional stage" and aimed to hurry the democratic transition, Reuters noted.

"It will end as soon as the people vote on a constitution," Reuters said he told state television while the assembly was still voting on the draft. "There is no place for dictatorship."