There will be another round of voting, and so the story isn’t quite over yet, and “narrowly” doesn’t matter once the dust has settled, but it’s noteworthy that even with all the voter intimidation, guilt manipulation and commands to vote yes from the imams, and threats and violence, the Islamic supremacists could only get 56.5% of the vote. Clearly a huge number of Egyptians, and possibly a majority, don’t want a Sharia state.
(Reuters) – Egyptians voted narrowly in favor of a constitution shaped by Islamists and which opponents said was a recipe for deepening divisions in the nation, officials in rival camps said on Sunday after the first round of a two-stage referendum.
The result based on unofficial tallies, if confirmed for this round and repeated in Saturday’s second stage, may give Islamist President Mohamed Mursi limited cause for celebration as it shows the wide rift in Egypt at a time when he needs to build consensus on tough measures to heal a fragile economy.
Official results are not expected till after the next round.
Mursi and his backers say the constitution is vital to move Egypt’s democratic transition forward. Opponents say the basic law is too Islamist and tramples on minority rights, including those of Christians who make up 10 percent of the population….
But late on Saturday, as polls were closing, Islamists attacked the offices of the liberal opposition Wafd party newspaper, a party that was part of the National Salvation Front coalition that pushed for a “no” vote.
“The referendum was 56.5 percent for the ‘yes’ vote,” a senior official in the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party operations room set up to monitor voting told Reuters.
The Brotherhood and its party, which propelled Mursi to power in a June election, had representatives at almost all polling stations across the 10 areas, including Cairo, where this round of voting was held.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said the tally was based on counts from more than 99 percent of polling stations in this round.
One opposition official also said the vote appeared to have gone in favor of Islamists who backed the constitution, after the opposition had previously said late on Saturday when voting ended that their exit polls indicated the “no” camp would win….
Even a narrow loss could hearten leftists, socialists, Christians and more liberal-minded Muslims who make up the disparate opposition camp, which has been beaten in two elections since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year….
Several party buildings belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood’s party have been burned by angry protesters….
On Friday, a day before the vote, rival factions armed with clubs, knives and swords fought in the streets of Alexandria. Opposition supporters trapped a Muslim preacher inside his mosque after he called for a “yes” vote.
“The sheikhs (preachers) told us to say ‘yes’ and I have read the constitution and I liked it,” said Adel Imam, 53, as he queued to vote in Cairo on Saturday. “The country will move on.”
Echoing the views of many Christians, Michael Nour, a 45-year-old Christian teacher in Alexandria, said: “I voted ‘no’ to the constitution out of patriotic duty. The constitution does not represent all Egyptians.”…
Rights groups reported some abuses, such as polling stations opening late, officials telling people to vote “yes,” bribery and intimidation….