Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday officially signed into law a new constitution drafted by his own Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, and which critics say has effectively placed Egypt under strict Sharia Law.
Two referendums were held on the new constitution. The results of the second were announced on Tuesday: 63.8 percent of the small number of those who voted were in favor of the document.
Morsi said now that the new constitution is in place, he can focus on fixing Egypt's internal problems. But others say it will only exacerbate internal divisions and transform Egypt into a pariah state on par with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
While Morsi claims the new constitution contains rights and protections for all Egyptians, its vagueness in certain areas and overt Islamic flavor has lead many to fear that radical Muslim clerics are going to play an increasingly influential role in Egypt, while minority groups and women will suffer.
"It's a disaster," female Egyptian lawyer Nihad Abu El Konsam told German media. "There isn't a single article in the draft constitution that mentions the rights of women."
"This constitution will set Egypt 100 years back," added Abu El Konsam, noting that the Muslim Brotherhood had purposely left "open doors" that will result in Egyptians being placed under an extremist form of Islamic rule.
Hamdeen Sabahi, an opposition leader who placed third in Egypt's presidential election, said the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists have "stolen" Egypt's pro-democracy revolution, but he remains hopeful that they can be toppled.
In the meantime, "Morsi may have been elected democratically, but he is not governing democratically," charged Sabahi in an interview with the Associated Press.
Evidence of that was seen in Morsi's reaction to ongoing opposition to his new constitution even after it passed the referendum. The president issued a thinly-veiled warning that public demonstrations against his rule must end, because the people were tired of it.
Morsi tried to accuse all who oppose him of being responsible for the nation's continuing economic woes, a tried and true tactic used by all of recent history's most successful despots.
The threats seemed to be working. While the run-up to the referendum saw hundreds of thousands protesting daily in central Cairo and even marching on the presidential palace, now that it has been signed into law very few are taking to the streets.
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