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.


Presidential Election Recaptures Hopes for New Egypt

Ink-stained Fingers After Egyptian Elections

Egyptian women in Cairo show their ink-stained fingers after voting on May 24, 2012. MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GettyImages

In the aftermath of the 2011 Egyptian Uprising, activists there have faced a long series of disappointments and broken promises. But for two days this week, the spirit of Tahrir Square was again in full evidence as a large turnout of Egyptians celebrated their first free presidential elections in our lifetime.

Nehal Amer, Amnesty International Middle East Country Specialist, was in Cairo for the elections and captured the celebratory atmosphere in Nazr City.  She noted “a bit of disorganization” but people remained upbeat. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST