Votes are still being counted after Egyptians cast their ballots in the country's constitutional referendum on Tuesday and Wednesday.
No official results
are yet available, but partial results indicate a clear victory for the
"yes" side with 98 per cent in at least 25 districts.
The only reliable
figure so far is the 55 per cent turnout, a significant increase over the 33
per cent registered in December 2012 when voters were called to approve the
constitution drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government.
media describe the result as a victory for the military," said Egyptian
Catholic Church spokesman Fr Rafiq Greich, in an interview by AsiaNews.
Under the new Constitution,
the military will apparently have a greater say, but for the clergyman, ordinary
Egyptians "voted primarily against religious extremism, sharia and attempts by
the Muslim Brotherhood to Islamise the society".
large deployment of police and military forces, several attacks in the Sinai and
elsewhere have shaken the country. In the capital, a bomb blew up outside a courthouse
a few hours before voting got underway. Clashes between
police and Muslim Brotherhood also left 11 people dead.
For the priest,
"the large voter turnout is a show of defiance against Islamist threats,
and a signal that the population has confidence in democracy."
attacks did not prevent people from voting," the clergyman explained. "I am impressed
by the large turnout of women, who until a few months ago, under the Morsi government,
were in danger of oppression by the increasing Islamisation of society."
Under the new
constitution, men and women are equal with potentially new opportunities for
turned out in greater numbers. In August, Islamists had attacked and destroyed
hundreds of Christian houses and churches.
In some places, like Delga (Upper
Egypt), Islamists took over the entire town, re-imposing the "tax on
During the referendum
campaign, Christians also came under attack or received threats.
province of Minya (Upper Egypt), members of the Muslim Brotherhood tried to
intimidate the population.
But the most serious case occurred in Sohag, where militants
climbed on the roofs of some houses located along the city's main street, pelting
passers-by with stones and in some cases shooting at them.
(about 100 km southwest of Cairo), unknown assailants shot at the Church of St
Michael the Archangel on Monday night.
According to the police, the goal was to
intimidate the Christian population against supporting the new Constitution.
According to Fr
Greiche, unlike the constitution proposal voted in December 2012, the current
one provides many advantages for minorities, including freedom of religion.
remains however the official religion of the state.
constitution has a provision requiring the government to adopt a law that would
give Christians the freedom to build their own places of worship.
For the Catholic
Church spokesman, we need to be realist. Whoever rules in the future, they "will
have to turn into law what is enshrined in the constitution and meet the demands
of the population."
does not happen," he warns, "we shall find ourselves with yet another odd text useful
only to stock bookshelves."