Division, Distrust and Despair – Egypt Votes On a New Constitution

Egyptian polling place

Egyptians line up outside a polling station in Mahalla on 15 December to vote in the referendum on a new Constitution. © Amnesty International

By Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s North Africa Researcher

Arriving in Cairo a few days before the constitutional referendum held on Saturday, 15 December, I couldn’t remember a more bitterly divided and polarized Egypt.

During my last visit to the country as part of an Amnesty International delegation to document human rights violations committed during the 18 days of the “25 January Revolution”, there was a palpable sense of unity among protesters despite the suffering and violence.

Egyptians from all walks of life – women and men, Christians and Muslims, young and old, liberal and Islamist, affluent and poor – stood together against the government and its tactics to crush the uprising. They put aside their political, religious and ideological differences to fight for a common cause, and they were successful.