Poor old Hosni Mubarak.
It seems everyone is against him and his efforts to secularise Egypt. The latest referendum to allow the curtailing of the activities of the Islamic opposition has just been held with the resounding and underwhelming participation of around 27% of the population turning out to vote.
It seems everybody had decided to take the advice of the opposition and stay at home. Nevertheless, the government is claiming a victory saying that 75% of the voters said yes to the new ammendments to the constitiution and to the further restrictions on the activities of the Islamic Brotherhood.
I went off to do a bit of digging in the “local” press.
The Middle East Times is as independent as anything I’m going to find on the internet, so here goes:
“The people were the real winners yesterday,” President Hosni Mubarak said after it was announced that 75.9 percent of Egyptians who took part in Monday’s referendum voted in favor of amendments to 34 articles in the constitution. The regime has defended the move as a boost to democracy and security, but the opposition and civil rights groups have described the changes, especially new anti-terrorism measures, as a major setback for basic freedoms.
However, officially only 27.1 percent of the 35-million-strong electorate turned out, compared with 53 percent in a referendum two years earlier that paved the way for Egypt’s first contested presidential election. Opposition parties – which had called for a boycott – contested the official figure, arguing that turnout did not even reach 10 percent, while civil society groups complained of widespread vote rigging.
Egypt’s judges, who were charged with supervising the referendum, also said that election officials prevented them from supervising the referendum and stuffed ballot boxes when their backs were turned. “The judges wash their hands of the referendum results,” Ahmed Sabr, a spokesman for the Judges’ Club, said. “We will no longer be a fig leaf to cover something shameful.”
The opposition, including civil society organizations and the Muslim Brotherhood, maintain that the amendments will only strengthen the regime’s grip on power and ensure a smooth transition to the president’s son Gamal.
“..anti-terrorism measures …a major setback for basic freedoms.” Hmmm.. I wonder what they mean by that?
It would appear that not everyone thinks like our Hosni.
If the turnout was only 27% of the voting population, and only 75% of them said yes, then Mubarak has about 21% of the population behind him. Unless a whole bunch of those who didn’t turn out to vote thinks he’s a great guy, agree with him, but just couldn’t be bothered to lift their lazy arses out of the sand to go and vote in his referendum. If I was him, I’d be a worried man. The judges are against him, the banned-but-tolerated Muslim Brotherhood is against him and civil society organiations, whatever they are, are also against him. Life ain’t easy at the top of the pyramid.
The Egyptian Gazette wasn’t exactly whooping for joy either.
Islamist and secular opposition groups protested against the amendments, calling for a boycott of the referendum.Members of the Muslim Brotherhood outside the Bar Association in downtown Cairo criticised the amendments as “unilateral on the part of the ruling National Democratic Party”. “The Bar Association rejects the way in which the Constitution has been amended and calls for an independent committee to perform that function,”
How and where they are going to find an independent committee in Egypt is an open question. But apart from that, they had little else to say that the Middle East Times hadn’t already said.
The independent newspaper “Al Masri Al Youm” struck a more resigned note with a red banner headline reading “Nothing New,” in reference to what it said was a rigged referendum. The paper, which has one of the largest circulations in Egypt, ran a photograph of a woman weeping over the referendum and black-clad security forces filling downtown Cairo. How those two images relate to one another is beyond me.
All in all, not a good result for Hosni Mubarak, even if it does mean that he can swat the islamofascists in his own backyard with a bigger stick now. Which has to be step in the right direction. However it does seem, that it is not just the camels in Egypt, that have the hump.
But the final insult comes here. From Reuters.
Human rights groups in Egypt and abroad have criticised the vote, which will increase Government powers to detain people in the name of fighting terrorism.
Yes. Yes. Well, of course. We wouldn’t want to upset our nice terrorists, would we? Perish the thought.
I didn’t know they had human rights groups in Egypt.
“The Left” is everywhere.
Middle East Times