CAIRO — Egyptians formed long lines Tuesday at polling stations across much of the country to vote on a new constitution that represents a key milestone in a military-backed roadmap put in place after the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president in a coup last July.
The transition of the past three years, after former President Hosni Mubarak was removed from power following popular protests in early 2011, have left the Arab world's most populous nation sharply divided between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in one camp, and the military, security forces and their supporters in the other. This week's vote is being carried out under tightened security and fears of attacks.
Shortly before polls opened, an explosion struck a Cairo courthouse, damaging its facade and shattering windows in nearby buildings but causing no casualties in the densely populated neighborhood of Imbaba — a Brotherhood stronghold.
Brotherhood supporters also clashed with security forces in several provinces around the country, with one Morsi supporter shot to death when he and about 100 others tried to storm a polling station south of Cairo, officials said. They were speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The Brotherhood, now branded a terrorist group, has called for a boycott of the vote. Morsi himself is facing three separate trials on charges that carry the death penalty.
The referendum is a precursor to the country's presidential elections, in which it is largely expected that Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will run.
Women and the elderly were heavily represented on Tuesday. The mood was generally upbeat, hostile toward the Brotherhood and hopeful that the charter would bring better days. In one women-only line in Cairo, voters sang the national anthem together as well as patriotic songs dating back to the 1960s. "El-Sissi is my president," they chanted as some jubilantly ululated.
Here's a look at Egyptians voting.
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