Riot police fired tear gas Friday in Alexandria as Egypt’s Islamists and the opposition hurled stones at each other on the eve of the final round of a referendum on the country's new constitution. The constitution was written by an Islamist-dominated assembly. It disregards the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities, particularly Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
According to Ahram Online, following Friday prayers, dozens of anti-constitution protesters and thousands of supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi, separated by several lines of riot police, hurled rocks over the security cordon at each other in front of Qaed Ibrahim Mosque that was the focus for violence last week.
The Health Ministry said about 68 people were injured as a result of these clashes. Meanwhile, some unidentified people set fire to two buses and a car used to transfer Islamist protesters, eyewitnesses said, the newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported.
However, Islamists were planning a mass protest in front of the Qaed Ibrahim mosque on Friday to defend scholars and mosques and to call for the implementation of God's Sharia.
“God is great,” Islamists chanted as the clashes began.
Facebook calls for rallies came after a violent confrontation in Alexandria last Friday between Islamist forces and the opposition coalition of liberals and leftists, known as the National Salvation Front. It ended with Muslim preacher Sheikh Ahmed El-Mahalawy besieged inside his mosque for 14 hours. This was after he had urged Alexandria worshipers to vote "Yes" in the constitutional referendum, saying it would bring stability.
Since Nov. 22, Egypt has been rocked by tensions and violence over Morsi’s controversial declaration, that gave him unlimited powers and put his decisions beyond judicial oversight “powers of a pharaoh," as some critics have called it. Morsi was forced to withdraw the decree later, but his hasty organization of the referendum on the draft constitution sparked further demonstrations.
Saturday, the second stage of the referendum on the constitution is due as voters in 17 provinces will cast their ballots either for or against the draft.
Based on analysts' reports, the second stage of the referendum is expected to yield a majority of “yes” votes, as it covers regions seen as more conservative and supportive to Morsi.
The Muslim Brotherhood should know that the world is watching what is happening in Egypt and is looking forward to see the developments in the Egyptian street. Even the United States, which provided unlimited support to the Muslim Brotherhood in recent times, seems apprehensive of the events in Egypt.
Therefore I would advise the Muslim Brotherhood to rearrange their papers and live the reality by realizing the fact that there are political partners who must not be ignored, but they have to work together for the sake of a new Egypt. Egypt after the revolution is supposed to be much different than it was before. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood must separate between their narrow ideological goals and the country's wider goals. They should also realize that they are now running a country considered one of the most important countries in the world. Therefore, if they insist on their narrow view on many things by relying on their ideas to the exclusion of other ideas and opinions, it will make them collide with the fact that they ignore representation in every decision they take.
For sure, the Muslim Brotherhood will not hear any advice from anyone, thus demonstrations and protests in Egypt will not end. It will definitely continue because the Egyptian people did not carry out their revolution to replace one dictator with another, but they sought for democracy and justice in all fields of life.
Finally, I pray to God to save Egypt and reconcile the Egyptians to the right path. I also hope that Egypt remains united and keeps its prestigious international stature so high as usual.