Despite calls by President Morsi to “begin building our country's rebirth with free will…men, women, Muslims and Christians”, Egypt's populace has never been so divided on the issue of freedom from authoritarian rule the fundamental pillar of the Egyptian spring that toppled the Mubarak regime. The referendum that was won by the Muslim brotherhood brought to light some interesting facts. According to the Egyptian election commission, while 60 percent of the people who voted backed the constitution. Of that figure, 36 percent of the total votes cast were against the new constitution. But the turnout was 30 percent.
Today, Egypt is a nation divided. The main opposition to the new constitution is based on the argument that the “Sharia” remains the main source of legislation. Although the new constitution has embedded in it rights of all religions, namely Judaism, Christianity and the dominant religion Islam to be protected by the State, fears abound that the document will be used to favour Islamists over that of other religious groups and adversely affect women's rights. What ought to be remembered is that a people that has experienced such major political upheaval in the immediate past a revolution that brought the country out of a decades old one-party rule will not take matters sitting down.
Allegations of fraud and a shaky Egyptian economy are not helping matters. The constitution is a 63-page document with some 236 articles covering every aspect from rights to religion. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that 40 percent of the population lacks literacy. There is also the urban-rural divide. While the Muslim Brotherhood commands great respect in the countryside, it is a different matter with the Alexandrians and residents of the capital city.
In the final analysis, Morsi has his work cut out. What ordinary Egyptians fear most of all is that the country does not slide back into autocracy. And the economy that has been in the red since the revolutionary days needs urgent reprieve. A tall order, a tightrope that must be carefully navigated by the President-elect if Egypt is to emerge as a nation built on the pillars of democracy.