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U.S. says Egypt opposition has ‘legitimate concerns’

December 11th, 2012
04:58 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Egypt’s opposition is expressing “legitimate concerns, both about the content and the process” of President Morsy’s proposed constitution, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said on Tuesday.

“Let me be clear: Our view is that the constitution needs to be for all Egyptians,” Posner told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “It needs to be based on universal principles of human rights.”

Tensions are rising in Egypt as competing protests formed across Cairo on Tuesday, and a referendum on the proposed constitution nears. 

READ MORE: Egypt protests as vote nears

Egypt’s association of judges announced Tuesday that 90 percent of its members refuse to oversee Saturday’s planned vote. That is a problem because Egyptian law requires that judges be present at polling places. Nevertheless, a top Morsy adviser said that the referendum would go forward as planned.

Posner would not say whether he, or the United States, believes the vote should be delayed. He did suggest that the process by which the constitution was passed was just as important as its content.

“There has to be a legitimate process that is a negotiation among all Egyptians, so that people feel a stake in the future,” he said. “We clearly want to see a document that is embraced by a majority of Egyptians, and a process and a referendum that’s free, open, fair.”

Though the process by which the proposed constitution has been drafted is clearly troubling to many Egyptians, members of the opposition are, above all, expressing deep concerns about the content of the document put forward by Morsy.

Posner avoided running down a “scorecard” on its content, but said that he had spoken to a range of people on Tuesday who had “different opinions about almost every detail.”

It is a statement that would seem to suggest, though Posner carefully avoided saying so, that the United Sates believes Egypt needs more time to consider the controversial proposed constitution.

“We’re taking the long view here,” he said. “This is a time for restraint, and for smart thinking about the way forward that’s based on principle.”

There are a range of issues that the United States thinks should be included in the document, but Posner singled out freedom of the press as especially important.

“I talked to some journalists who said, frankly, that they’re nervous about the future,” he said. “There needs to be an open space for people to discuss their differences, and to negotiate those differences.”

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported alleged abuse against members of the opposition detained by Islamist backers of President Morsy. Posner called the reports “very troubling,” but said “there’s been violence across the spectrum here.”

He told Amanpour that he had, in private conversations, been urging restraint both from the opposition and from President Morsy’s supporters.

“There’s a lot of tension in the air,” Posner said. “There is a long road ahead, and it’s critical that people think in terms of the bigger picture.”

READ MORE: Egyptian opposition: Referendum boycott uncertain

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.

Filed under:  Egypt • Latest Episode
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. egyptreports

    The comparing the opposition with the government is unfair and misguided. The violence was solely initiated by militias that belong to the Muslim Brotherhood that attacked the peaceful demonstrations. This has been a pattern throughout, in 5 out of 6 cases, the Muslim Brotherhood send in armed thugs to break up marches and demonstrations. This is a very biased assessmet and view of the situation that blatantly ignores the facts.

    December 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
    • امينة اباظة


      December 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  2. Ramez

    Pls listen to ElBaradei interview with Christiane Amanpour. She uncovered him; he stumbles and contradicts himself. As opposition leader he should be wise enough to realize that he is dragging the country into a civil war. The real people behind the Egyptian revolution are no longer there; those were the real civilized Egyptian; absolute politeness and very peaceful. The people you see in the streets these days, either with or against Morsi, are not considered by all means civilized people. Look and listen to their slogans, look at the destruction they are causing to private and public properties. Every party is claiming that the other party is using thugs. In my opinion whoever participates in such demonstrations, again either with or against Morsi, is taking part of the thuggery act and is responsible of the chaotic situation Egypt is going through. Stop blaming each other, this will leads to nowhere. It's only by dialogue, Egypt will overcome this crisis and all concerns can be addressed.

    December 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • Sarah

      Ramez, I'm so glad to read this!! the problem is that the media is trying to hide this truth, and no one, especially americans, have any clue about what is really happening, all the hidden details of this revolution. I just hope that this will be uncovered soon for the whole world to see, to truly understand what is going on, and to move forward with what needs to be done for Egypt to get back on its feet again, instead of fighting and bickering like little kids, who are the opposition parties that are just upset that they didn't win the election!

      December 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  3. Hunter J

    This is Morsy's power grab. He can, because of his thug resources that can keep control of the streets, or try to. I've read of rape squads, and vigilante supporters capturing and beating protestors to try to intimidate and curb the current protestors. It may be both sides acting in an uncivilized manner now, but the current leadership has bullied its way to power and should be held responsible for their divisiveness. After all, they are in power.

    امينة اباظة is right and the US is taking part in arming an very unknown leadership. Given the evidence so far, US taxpayers should no longer be an arms supplier to Egypt's new dictatorship. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, recently criticized U.S. military aid to Egypt.

    The current US administration just green lit a gift of 20 f-16's to a questionable, now dictator. What are they thinking??!! I think its a mistake that we should even be selling arms right now to Egypt, much less just giving them away considering there is such a divide between the power and citizenship. Also Morsy's intentions in the captains chair is so unsettling. I have a feeling that much of the arms that have been given and sold to the present and past Egyptian leadership will only strengthen this one mans reign.

    December 12, 2012 at 3:40 am | Reply
  4. historywatch

    What is happening is Egypt now is absolutely historical, all powers of one country has come together to oppose fundamentalist religious rule. The Arab spring has been hijacked by fundamental Muslim groups who were most organized amongst a lot of exhausted minorities, those minorities initially revolted against poverty, corruption and police brutality... The Muslim groups did not think about it twice. They have ridden the revolutions to achieve their own religious goals. Which would push the Middle East back into the stone age such as applying sharia laws and retaliation of previous regimes. The opposition in Egypt ,who are the average simple Egyptians who dream of nothing but security and social equality , they are of all of life walks of life, Muslims , Christians ,human rights groups , women right groups , doctors , engineers ,artists , farmers, they are everyone who ever contributed to Egypt .and they are frightened that their motherland will be turned into another IRAN , Afghanistan or Somalia ,they are every voice that says no to covering women against their well , they are people who say no to stoning and beheadings ,they are the sun of freedom , they are you and me .
    Egypt has almost 30 millions of people who cannot read or write. Who live in poverty. They are the people who gave their votes to the Muslim brotherhood .lured by money, food grants and religious preaching.

    December 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • Shahira B.

      Right on. Very well said.

      December 14, 2012 at 12:27 am | Reply
  5. Shahira B.

    With all due respect to our Assistant Secretary of State, he has not studied the region and has no knowledge of what the Muslim Brotherhood is all about. If they continue with this referendum, Egypt will become another Afghanistan. The referendum will be rigged, the MB will distribute food and money to the illiterate people to vote for them.. There will be no equality for women, Christians and moderate muslims and they will be breeding a lot of terrorists in the region and throughout the world. If the Obama Administration does not recognize this, it is a tragedy, if they do, it is a catastrophe.

    December 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Reply
    • Sarah

      I'm sorry but you, ma'am, are wrong. I'm no fan of the MB either, but your facts are just wrong. And I can tell you this because I'm Egyptian. So please go educate yourself before parroting the news and other people.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Reply
      • Shahira B.

        Ma'am, exactly which part of my comment you disagree wth? By the way I am Egyptian too.

        December 14, 2012 at 12:19 am |
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  8. barbara simmings

    Here is a resemblance i see in today ‘s Egypt ,manifest in the delusioned ones.
    QUOTE : "They are literal bodies of history, living texts that rewrite the present and returning the German homeland to its volkisch roots and heroic past. Barriers that separate past and present are torn down through the dressing – or undressing – of living bodies, while a whole new future based on myth becomes the new reality. the thoroughness with which the metamorphosis of reality was achieved. (18). Thousands of human beings are amassed into a collection of uniformed blocks on the Nuremberg courtyard; they are a concentric stream of densely conglomerated nobodies obediently trimming the pathway of the Fuhrer’s motorcade; they are an epic gathering of millions of extended arms; they are the legs of a schoolboy in his knee-high socks standing on tiptoe to get a better view through the crush of bodies; they are hands of the Jugund beating their drums in synch with one another like perfect marionettes; they become the empty face of Youth staring straight ahead, the only presence of life hinted at by beauty. Like a Dantean vortex, the process of deconstruction breaks the symbolic body down piece-by-piece, economizing, funneling it through a procedure that gets narrower and narrower. The Face becomes the most intimate and most frighteningly absent present representation of Nazi deconstruction, made more haunting because it returns the place of recreation to the Beginning as held by Youth. Beautifully blank, chosen, and immortal, the face of youth is fictionalized through its marbleized flesh, its enameled eyes, and its effervescent blond hair to be a poem of purity. Occasionally, a smile will form upon its smooth surface, but because it is shaped by the encouraging words of its sculptor, it is lifeless. They are meant to be monuments of hope, of a heroic future that justifies the blood spilled in the present to regain past glory, but behind the art is truth, for they are chilling reminders of the fragments of sculpted facial traits displayed as ‘typical Jewish features’ in anti-Jewish art exhibitions. Triumph of the Will transcends one kind of reality – the colonization of consciousness by Nazi vision – Olympiadtranscends another: the colonization of the unconscious. It asks for the complete surrender of bodily earthiness. It offers, like the beautiful Aryan body sculpture, “a body of language people could identify with and on which they could model themselves.” (16) It demands the individual to want to be sculpturized. Hitler’s superior race was Nazi Germany’s first greatest lies, an aestheticized vision of the Perfect State that was a mask for its theatre of death. Peter Adam writes, “One can only look at the art of the Third Reich through the lens of Auschwitz,” (12) as if to state that the horrors of the camps are in the end the most powerful aesthetic statement the Nazi-as-artist has contributed to can create an ideal, shaped by the impossible mythology that is as frightening and fascinating as Nazi action, and through the sculpted form of a gigantic Superman and Flawless woman, reality is redefined, truth recreated and the Political Aesthetic officialized" .UNQUOTE. Do you recognize yourselves?.

    December 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
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