Egypt expected to pass constitution; currency limits imposed

(Reuters) – Egypt is expected to announce on Tuesday that voters approved a new Islamist-backed constitution, and the government slapped limits on carrying cash abroad to save the economy from collapse after weeks of street violence and political disarray.

President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist elected this year after a 2011 revolution toppled long-serving autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by liberal, leftist and Christian opponents of ramming through a basic law mixing religion with politics.

Mursi says the charter has sufficient guarantees of minority rights, and that quickly enacting it will bring an end to the uncertainty and unrest plaguing Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster in the wave of revolts across the Middle East and North Africa.

The referendum result appears to be in little doubt, and opposition groups which marched for weeks against the new charter did not announce plans for any major demonstrations to mark the official announcement.

Unofficial tallies from Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood showed the charter was approved by a 64 percent majority. The electoral commission will announce the official result at 1700 GMT.

In a move aimed at preventing capital flight and a potential bank run, the government banned people from carrying more than $10,000 in foreign currency cash in or out of the country.

A growing sense of crisis has gripped Egypt’s polarized society, with a rush by Egyptians to take out savings from banks compounding worries about the future of its battered economy. On Monday, Standard and Poor’s cut Egypt’s long-term credit rating.

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Iran’s Supremo on “Arab Spring”: “We believe that the current huge movement is a real Islamic Awakening”

He has been saying this all along, and he is increasingly being proven right. Only I and a few others, meanwhile, were saying this in the West. Yet the analysts and commentators who confidently hailed the dawning of democracy in the Middle East at the beginning of the uprisings have never apologized or retracted, or been called to account for their outstandingly wrongheaded analyses. “Supreme Leader Reiterates Islamic Identity of Regional Uprisings,” from the Fars News Agency, December 11:

TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei once again underscored that Islam was the main force behind the recent popular uprisings in the region.

“We believe that the current huge movement is a real Islamic Awakening (movement) and will spread and grow and won’t be derailed so easily,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing participants in the International Conference of Muslim Scholars and Islamic Awakening here in Tehran today.

“People’s Islamic slogans in the regional revolutions and the role played by Muslim believers in encouraging massive rallies and overthrowing corrupt regimes altogether signify that the movement is Islamic.”

The Leader further said that people’s yes vote to Islamist parties in the recent elections was another indication of the Islamic identity of the recent uprisings.

Ayatollah Khamenei expressed confidence that if free and fair elections are held in other Islamic states and if Islamist politicians become a candidate in such elections, people will not doubt [sic] vote for Islamists….

Robert Spencer: Egypt and the Death of the “Arab Spring”

In FrontPage this morning I discuss Egypt’s new constitution and how it contrasts with the high hopes the mainstream media had for the “Arab Spring,” which was a fiction from the beginning:

Nearly two years after the “Arab Spring”  began in Egypt, the nation’s Muslim Brotherhood president has arrogated to himself dictatorial powers, and is ramming through a new constitution that will effectively extinguish the last vestiges of Egyptian democracy and establish Egypt as a Sharia state. Just as I said back in January 2011, when the uprisings against Mubarak began, for the people in Egypt who had real power to affect change, the “Arab Spring” was never about democracy and pluralism, despite the ululations of the Western press; it was always about imposing Islamic law upon Egypt. And now, with the new constitution, here we are.

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Morsi flees palace as protests in Cairo turn violent

CAIRO (AP) — A protest by at least 100,000 Egyptians outside the presidential palace in Cairo turned violent on Tuesday as tensions grew over Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Crowds around the capital and in the coastal city of Alexandria were still swelling several hours after nightfall. The large turnout signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday. They are demanding the Morsi rescind decrees that placed him above judicial oversight…

The violence erupted when protesters pushed aside a barricade topped with barbed wire several hundred yards from the palace walls. Police fired tear gas, and then retreated. With that barricade removed, protesters moved closer to the palace’s walls, with police apparently choosing not to try and push the crowds back.

Soon afterwards, police abandoned the rest of the barricades, allowing the crowds to surge ahead to the walls of the palace complex. But there were no attempts to storm the palace, guarded inside by the army’s Republican Guard.

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TUNISIA: ‘Moderate” Muslim leader planning slow takeover of country by radical extremists

There’s an uproar in Tunisia over a video that shows a leading politician advising young Salafist leaders on how they can take control of the state, gradually. The politician, Rashid al-Ghannushi, heads the country’s largest party, Ennahda, and is considered to be a voice of Islamic moderation.

INN  The video was first broadcast last April and re-broadcast October 9th. In it, Ghannushi told the Salafists: “The secularists are still in control of the media, economy and administration. Therefore, controlling them would require more time.”

He added that “the police and army’s support for Islamists is not guaranteed, and controlling them would also require more time.” ”I tell our young Salafists to be patient… Why hurry? Take your time to consolidate what you have gained,” Ghannushi said. He advised the Salafists to “create television channels, radio stations, schools and universities” to push their agenda.

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“Better Elected Islamists Than Dictators,” Online Video Debate

Daniel Pipes who is president of the Middle East Forum, the author of 12 books, and his biweekly columns are read around the world:


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…And if dictators are bad and kill thousands, ideological dictators, Nazis, communists and Islamists kill millions and even tens of millions, tens of millions. Mao, Stalin, Saddam Hussein and so forth. These are people with a vision how they’re going to change society. So I argue that we’re better off with plain old greedy dictators who can evolve, who do evolve if they’re pushed, who are not that terrible to their population, who we can work with. We’re far better off with them than we are with the ideological ones. So in short, the motion that’s before us, “Better —” if you agree with this motion, “Better Elected Islamists Than Dictators,” you are in effect saying that you also agree with the idea that the motion, “Better Elected Nazis Than Dictators.” Adolph Hitler was elected, was he not?

Click here for video of the 1 hr 50 minute debate