Most Arab headlines on Sunday are dedicated to the Egyptian referendum on a new draft constitution, with dailies reporting high voting rates and a clear tendency toward “yes.”
“Egypt: High turnout at the referendum fraught with violations,” reads the headline of liberal London-based daily Al-Hayat. The voting took place in 10 Egyptian counties, with the high voter numbers forcing the polls to remain open until 11 p.m. The Islamist parties allocated buses to drive supporters to polling stations since the early morning, Al-Hayat notes, “to insure their vote.”
In a separate article, the daily reports controversy surrounding the fact that President Morsi was allowed to vote near the presidential palace, rather than at his local polling station. Due to the hurried nature of the referendum, most citizens could not change their voting address even if they had moved — but somehow the president could.
‘Approving the Brotherhood constitution in Egypt means the Brotherhood’s kidnapping of the Egyptian state and its institutions’
Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports “millions of Egyptians crowding in lines stretching for kilometers,” in Saturday’s referendum. According to the daily, some 120,000 soldiers and 6,000 tanks and armored vehicles guarded the voting process, amid “unprecedented turnout in Egyptian voting history, especially among women.”
The daily’s editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed (who retires at the end of December) compares the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to take control of Egypt to the Iranian revolution at the end of the 1970s.
“Approving the Brotherhood constitution in Egypt means the Brotherhood’s kidnapping of the Egyptian state and its institutions… the Brotherhood strives not only to strengthen its rule in Egypt and remain in power for three decades more, but rather hopes to impose its control over the entire region by spreading its program. This is a program that openly speaks of hegemony and a Khalifate, modeled after the idea of ‘exporting the revolution’ similar to Khomeini’s revolution in Iran.”
“Ultimately, the entire region will lie between a Guide in Cairo and a Guide in Qom, i.e., a Sunni Guide and a Shiite Guide,” writes Homayed.
Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports on Sunday morning that according to preliminary results, some 57% of Egyptians voted for the new constitution, while 43% voted against it.
Mohammed ElBaradei, an opposition leader and former head of the IAEA, appealed to Egyptians to “follow the voice of reason and conscience and vote ‘no’ to save Egypt.”
“Forgeries against God’s law,” reads the headline of liberal Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, reporting irregularities such as the distribution of oil and sugar (in return for a certain vote), fistfights, disfiguring of voting cards and the sending of text messages on the morning of the referendum, calling on Egyptians to vote “yes.”
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, praises the Egyptian opposition for agreeing to take part in the referendum, despite its initial inclination to boycott.
“This move is well-advised and will be noted in favor of the opposition, not against it,” Atwan writes. “Participation, even to reject [the constitution], is a democratic decision. Completely rejecting the constitution due to a few reservations on peripheral articles will only enforce the current state of divide and lead the country through a dark tunnel with no light at its end,” writes Atwan.
Tehran threatens ‘world war’ over Patriot missiles
Iran is displeased with NATO’s decision to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey as a precaution against cross-border missiles emanating from Syria.
Al-Hayat reports that Iran is threatening that the deployment may cause a “world war.” The daily quotes Iranian chief of staff Hassan Firouz Abadai telling Iran’s Student’s News Agency (ISNA) that “every Patriot missile is a black mark on the map of the world,” noting that the move poses a danger to the future of humanity and Europe itself.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat adds comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who said Iran would never allow the West to topple Bashar Assad.