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Why is Egypt's draft constitution so controversial? (+video)

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Freedom of religion has also been curtailed in the new constitution. Egypt's previous constitution guaranteed the freedom of religion and religious practice. The same wording was used in earlier drafts of the new constitution. But the document that was voted on last night only promises freedom of practice for the Abrahamic religions – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. 

This leaves other religious sects in Egypt, such as Egyptian Bahai'is, stripped of the right to publicly practice their faith.

"To say that they can't even practice their religious rights is terrifying," says Ms. Morayef. She notes that the limitation could easily be appled to Baha'is, who have already fought an uphill battle in Egypt just for the right to leave the religion section of their national identity cards blank. (ID cards include citizens' religion and the options are limited to Islam, Christianity, or Judaism.)

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, Baha'is, as well as Ahmadis, Shiites, and Quranists were regularly arrested for their beliefs.


On women's rights, an article in a previous draft said women's equality was guaranteed so long as it did not contradict Islamic law. That clause was dropped completely from the final version.

But the article prohibiting discrimination fails to mention sex, or any other grounds, simply stating that "citizens are equal before the law and equal in rights and obligations without discrimination." While some rights activists feel the broader clause is better because it doesn't limit the prohibition on discrimination, Morayef says it could be detrimental for women's rights to not explicitly prohibit discrimination against them. 

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