Egypt's Islamists race to approve new constitution

By Hamza Hendawi And Maggie Michael

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 11:13 p.m. MST

An Egyptian protester is treated for wounds sustained during clashes with security forces at a field hospital in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Members of an Islamist-dominated panel tasked with writing Egypt's new constitution are gathering to vote on the document's final draft in Cairo, where dozens of opposition supporters are still camped out at Tahrir Square. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Associated Press

CAIRO — Islamists on Thursday rushed to approve a draft constitution for Egypt without the participation of liberal and Christian members, aiming to pre-empt a court ruling that could dissolve their panel and further inflaming the clash between the opposition and President Mohammed Morsi.

The move advances a charter with an Islamist bent that rights experts say could give Muslim clerics oversight over legislation and bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women's rights and other liberties.

The assembly that has been working on the constitution for months raced to pass it in a single marathon session that continued past midnight, with members voting article-by-article. Of the 85 members in attendance, there was not a single Christian and only four women.

For weeks, liberal, secular and Christian members, already a minority on the 100-member panel, have been withdrawing to protest what they call the Islamists' hijacking of the process.

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