CAIRO– Local media reported that a number of clerics had used their Friday sermons to urge congregants to vote "yes" in the upcoming referendum.
CAIRO– Local media reported that a number of clerics had used their Friday sermons to urge congregants to vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum.
Religion appears to have added a new dimension to the ongoing row between Egypt’s rival political camps over an upcoming popular referendum on an amended version of the country’s suspended 2012 constitution.
Earlier this week, Egypt’s former grand mufti Ali Gomaa called on Egyptians to vote “yes” on the amended charter as a public endorsement of an army-imposed roadmap imposed by the military following the July 3 ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.
“Go endorse the constitution,” Gomaa said at a debut press conference for a new pro-government coalition. “God supports it [the revised charter] because it favors productivity and stands against corruption, infidelity, hypocrisy, schism and misbehavior.”
Local media also reported that a number of clerics had used their Friday sermons to urge congregants to vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum.
These sentiments were countered, however, by the pro-Morsi camp, with one coalition of Al-Azhar sheikhs arguing that participation in the vote – even to vote “no” – was religiously prohibited.
Participation in the referendum would only serve to legitimize an illegitimate regime, the pro-Morsi “Scholars against the Coup” movement declared in a Friday fatwa (religious ruling).
The group went on to assert that amendments made to the 2012 charter had negated all constitutional articles related to Egypt’s Islamic identity and values.
“It also puts the military establishment above the three branches of government, turning it into a state within a state,” the statement added.
One Egyptian political party asserted that to vote in the planned referendum would be “sinful.”
In a statement last week, the Independence Party – a component of the pro-Morsi National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy – claimed that those who voted in support of the revised charter would be “sinners.”
It suggested that the two days of the referendum – January 14 and 15 – should be days of protest against both the amended constitution and Morsi’s ouster.
“How can we vote, even to say ‘no,’ when we know the referendum will be rigged?” the party asked.
Constitutional amendment is a central pillar of an army-imposed roadmap for post-Morsi political transition.
Egypt’s interim authorities have repeatedly vowed to conduct a free poll supervised by the judiciary and monitored by international and local observers.