- (Photo: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)
Islamic members of Egypt's constitution panel rushed to approve a draft constitution Friday morning without the presence of liberal and Christian members, two days before a court ruling that could possibly dissolve the panel.
"Rushing through a draft while serious concerns about key rights protections remain unaddressed will create huge problems down the road that won't be easy to fix," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director for the New York-based Human Rights Watch told NBC News.
Only the Islamic majority members of the 100-person panel were present Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 to speedily approve a draft constitution, as the panel's minority Christian, secular, and liberal members have been protesting the Islamic domination of the constitution creation process for weeks.
According to NBC News, 85 Islamic members of the panel hastily voted on 230 articles in 16 hours in a televised event that went into the early hours of Friday morning in Cairo.
Critics argue that this hastened voting process was done in an attempt to subvert Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court ruling on Sunday which could dissolve the panel entirely, should the court find that the panel was biased in favor of Islam.
Reports indicate that the draft constitution which was passed Friday offers a dangerous amount of power to Muslim clerics regarding legislation and may hinder civil liberties.
However, the constitution also reportedly applies stricter laws to government control of the people, including stricter regulations for arrests, and offers a more balanced share of power between the president and the parliament.
After the draft was approved Friday, 100,000 Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo to protest what they believe to be a tyranny of Islam forced on the people by President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood political party, and his Islamic allies on the constitutional panel.
According to The Wall Street Journal, protesters gathered throughout Cairo, including Tahrir Square, chanting "no to tyranny" and "constitution: void," as well as raising their shoes in the air and chanting Morsi's name in protest.
These protests mark a week of angst among the Egyptian people after Morsi granted himself a temporary decree which halts the court's ability to challenge his decisions.
Morsi's new, sweeping governmental power will remain active until a nationwide vote on a referendum of the draft constitution in mid-December.
Critics worry that Morsi's recent election to the presidency will result in the monopolization of government under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, just two years after an immense, country-wide revolution toppled the dictatorship of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi, however, argues that he is implementing his new sweeping power momentarily, and that he believes there is no room for dictatorship in Egypt.
"It will end as soon as the people vote on a constitution," Morsi said of his new power on state television on Nov. 29, according to NBC News.
"There is no place for dictatorship," Morsi assured viewers.