Brotherhood the victor in Egyptian referendum

A referendum in Egypt on changes to the constitution brought a record turnout to the polls and a victory for both the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed president Hosni Mubarak's political party. The referendum carried by a 77-23 margin and will bring on quick elections for parliament in June and a presidential election in August.

The secularists were routed.

New York Times:

The Muslim Brotherhood and remnant elements of the National Democratic Party, which dominated Egyptian politics for decades, were the main supporters of the referendum. They argued the election timetable would insure a swift return to civilian rule.

Members of the liberal wing of Egyptian politics mostly opposed the measure, saying they lacked time to organize into effective political organizations. They said early elections will benefit the Brotherhood and the old ruling party, which they warned would seek to write a constitution that centralizes power much like the old one.

Voters were asked to either accept or reject eight constitutional amendments as a whole - all of them designed to establish the foundations for upcoming elections. Most addressed some of the worst excesses of previous years - limiting the president to two four-year terms, for example, to avoid another president staying in office as long as Mr. Mubarak. The amendments were announced on Feb. 25 after virtually no public discussion by an 11-member committee of experts chosen by the military.

"It is very, very disappointing," said Hani Shukrallah, who is active in a new liberal political party and is the editor of Ahram Online, a news Website.

He and many other opponents of the referendum said religious organizations had spread false rumors, suggesting that voting against the referendum would threaten Article 2 of the constitution, which cites Islamic law as the main basis for Egyptian law.

"I saw one sign that said, ‘If you vote no you are a follower of America and Baradei and if you vote yes you are a follower of God,'" he said. "The idea is that Muslims will vote yes and Copts and atheists will vote no."

No word yet from the Obama administration who are probably the only people in America surprised at this outcome. The Brotherhood flexed their muscles and showed just how much influence they have. The small group of liberals, overwhelmed by the Islamists, better get organized in a hurry or the worst case scenario involving Egypt will come to pass.