(CAIRO) — Egypt’s electoral commission announced on Tuesday that an Islamist-backed constitution passed by about a two-thirds majority during two rounds of voting for the referendum that could profoundly alter the nation’s way of life going forward.
Only 17 million Egyptians, or about 30 percent of eligible voters, cast ballots to decide whether to accept the document.
However, President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party believe that the outcome is a mandate to move Egypt in a different direction from the more secular reign of former President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled with an iron fist for 30 years.
Critics, however, contend that the new constitution will curtail the rights women have achieved in Egypt, which are comparatively advanced for an Arab state. Christians and other minorities also fear this will leave them open to more persecution.
In Washington, the State Department said “democracy requires much more than simple majority rule. It requires protecting the rights and building the institutions that make democracy meaningful and durable.”
Therefore, the White House is calling on opponents of the constitution to demonstrate their unhappiness through legitimate political discourse while urging the Morsi government to accept dissenting views.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Juliet Perry, Tim Hume and Livia Borghese, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Angela Dewan and Max Blau, CNN
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN