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Egyptian Situation Examined; Morsi Speaks to His Countrymen
Aired December 6, 2012 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
Tonight, more turmoil in the streets of Egypt. Angry protesters tried to storm the private home of President Mohammed Morsi about 40 miles north of Cairo. They were pushed back by police, but at least 26 people were injured.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Meanwhile, in Cairo, the military is on the streets to keep the peace after violent overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of the president, leaving six people dead and hundreds more wounded.
This brings to a head two weeks of turmoil since President Morsi expanded his powers and rammed through a draft constitution.
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AMANPOUR: But setting aside the anger over the process, what about the substance of the constitution? If it's approved in a referendum on December 15th, what will it mean for women, for freedom of religion, for freedom of expression?
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): At the heart of the opposition protests, how much Sharia is in the document? And who will interpret it? And what about the power of the president? That is what Egypt and Egyptians will be voting on next week if this referendum goes ahead as planned.
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AMANPOUR: And we'll try to clear away the smoke in a moment. Now, though, here's what's coming up later in the program.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): A forgotten island in the Arab Spring, the kingdom of Bahrain has cracked down on opposition protesters, but we'll hear a voice that refuses to be silenced.
And imprisoned for advocating human rights in Iran. For almost 50 days she refused to swallow the government line and almost everything else.
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AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a bit, but first CNN correspondent Reza Sayah is outside the presidential palace in Cairo.
And tell me about what is going on; we've had days now of these protests. What's happening there in anticipation of the president's speech?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the best news here at this hour, Christiane, is things are relatively calm and peaceful; supporters of the opposition faction have been steadily coming to the presidential palace -- not a large number, about 4,000 people. But they are certainly loud and spirited.
And these people, much like the rest of Egypt, are eagerly waiting for the president's speech to see what he has to say. We've been waiting for about four hours now. It's not clear why we've had to wait this long. Initially there were reports that he was going to speak at about 6:00 p.m. in a live address.
And two hours later reports came that it was going to be a televised, a taped address that was going to be delivered to state media. But four hours later, we're still waiting. A lot of people anxious to see what the president has to say to calm this conflict down, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And briefly, in a nutshell, what do they expect to hear and what do they want to hear in order to call off the protests?
SAYAH: I don't think anybody knows what the president is going to say, with the exception of members of his inner circle. But based on the opposition's position, anything less than the president coming out and saying that I'm going to annul and cancel this constitution and start the draft over again, anything less than that is not going to satisfy the opposition.
The opposition leaders came out yesterday and that was their direct demand, for President Morsi to cancel this constitution. But the president so far (inaudible) do so; a lot of eyes on the president (inaudible) will he back down from his position? Will he make some concessions? If he does, will that be a sign of weakness? A lot of questions remain unanswered, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: We're watching. We're watching Cairo; we're watching you, Reza. Thank you very much indeed.
And we're going to be joined now by Tarek Masoud, who teaches public policy at Harvard University. He's now writing a book on Islamic political parties, and he's, of course, been following the constitutional crisis in Egypt closely.
Mr. Masoud, welcome to the program and thank you. We did say -- and you heard Reza say -- that the Egyptians -- and of course much of the world -- is waiting to hear from President Morsi. He's been conspicuously quiet since this public turmoil has begun.
But is this the way to protest, storming his home, storming the palace? How do you see what's happening? And what will be the resolution, do you think?
TAREK MASOUD, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, Christiane, I see what's happening as almost the natural outcome of a very weak political system in Egypt, where you don't really have functioning institutions and haven't really had for the two years since Mubarak's being overthrown.
And so I think, you know, there were always going to be very deep conflicts in Egypt, almost regardless of who is in charge and the fact is, the situation has been quite lawless there ever since the revolution. So to a certain extent, some of these protests and street clashes were just simply to be expected.
AMANPOUR: Let's try to deconstruct some of the complaints about the constitution, what's in it and the process.
First of all, is it true, as the opposition claims, that a heavily dominated Islamist majority drafted this constitution and that nothing that the liberals or the seculars wanted in it is in it?
MASOUD: No, that's not true, but it's also not entirely false. So the constitutional -- the constitutional assembly, the group of people that wrote this document, they were actually selected by the elected parliament. And the elected parliament, as we know, was majority Islamists. And this is actually the second iteration of the constituent assembly.
They had actually chosen one before and that was dissolved. And so they came to choose this one and there was an agreement that half of the people on the committee would be Islamist and half of them would be non- Islamist.
Now if you look at the makeup of the committee, about half are formal members of Islamist parties and the other half are not. But people are arguing, liberals are arguing that even the quote-unquote non-Islamist half was dominated by people with Islamist sympathies.
So that's where they begin. They begin by seeing that the makeup of this committee really didn't reflect liberal Egyptians. And --
AMANPOUR: And of course from the --
MASOUD: -- then we look at what --
AMANPOUR: Let me just stop you for a minute, because of course --
MASOUD: -- this would be --
AMANPOUR: -- the Muslim Brotherhood point of view, they say the fact that we had 50 percent non-Islamists; it's already a concession, because had it just been the elected representatives, we would have dominated the process.
And then the critics say, but look at the whole discussion and turmoil about how much Sharia, how much Islam will govern the law.
So tell me, from having read it, how different is this draft constitution to the one that was in 1971?
MASOUD: OK. So the 1971 constitution --
MASOUD: -- as amended --
AMANPOUR: Mr. Masoud, I have to stop you just one second, because President Morsi is now speaking. Please take a listen and we'll be back with you.
MOHAMMED MORSI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT: -- for the lost lives and the bloodshed, for the work took place in front of the presidential quarters in the past two days. I feel -- I feel that every Egyptian citizen has his -- has the responsibility towards every Egyptian citizen, be it the opposition or supporter, because we are one nation.
There shouldn't be anything to divide us. We all should enjoy equally peace and security. All the citizens, all the Egyptian citizens should be discriminated by any religion or should not be treated differently because of their religion or their class.
After these painful incidents, under the guise of political difference, the only way is dialogue, to reach a consensus, to secure the interests of the country and to achieve the will of this -- of this people.
These people who we all -- the -- all this people who have dreamt of freedom under the hand (ph) and many years that we were oppressed, we suffered all the bullying, everything, all the discrimination against all the citizens. This regime that has fallen now and will never come back to this -- to the Egyptian land at all.
I must -- I must repeat that we all must do whatever the -- what the will of the people and the interests of the people. And this, what will achieve the will of the people, this is not expressed by the -- by anger, but by wisdom and calm.
This wasn't a calm that will give us an opportunity to get to the right decision whereby the majority should be governed according to democratic principles.
The minority should accede to the majority and serve both, all of us, will -- should unite and cooperate in order to achieve our interests without any partisanship or any allegiance to anybody except to the -- to Egypt, our country, our dear country, our precious country.
We wanted now -- there were -- there were some incidents now. We pray to God that he will save the country and the citizens and the people from all the evils of such incidents.
The great Egyptian people, they know -- the people who knows their value, their godship (ph) and beliefs, this Egyptian people, much is aware of what's going around him in this world and living in this age, this great -- this great people and its great capacity to rise from the -- from the old days.
Therefore, these we are facing challenges that are as big as we -- as the task that we face. I address this speech to those who oppose me, oppose me with honor or even to the supporters. I would -- I tell everybody clearly and although we respect the right of expression, peaceful expression, but I will never allow that anyone should refer to revert to murder and sabotage.
I will not allow anyone to do that. I will not allow anyone to, again, to kill or sabotage or scare the citizens and destroy the -- destroy our infrastructure or even to call for revolution against our will.
The demonstrators have aggressed as there on the 3rd of December until the 4th of December. There was an aggression by some of the demonstrators. They attacked the car of the presidential -- on the president. And they attacked a lot of these cars. And one of the drivers was hurt, badly hurt, for which he's still in the hospital. Why?
As peaceful demonstration means attacking -- attack -- attacking the public or private property or attacking or attacking a way, a road that people use or even the -- to give a bad image about Egypt.
This can never be a peaceful demonstration, acceptable, but this is -- - this is stained with what have been -- what we have seen by violence of some, some who have been -- who infiltrated the peaceful demonstrators.
And those will not escape punishment. The incidents of yesterday, it was yesterday the incidents of yesterday were worse than the day before, because the peaceful demonstrators were attacked by those who infiltrated. They attacked the peaceful demonstrators. They used weapons.
And this is a new thing that weapons are used, firearms, firearms are -- were used, smoke grenades. Yesterday was the -- was day the fifth. Yesterday the six of the pure Egyptians were killed and more than 700 -- more than 700 men and women were hit by bullets, 62 by bullets and the -- and it's the investigating of violence and continued until this morning.
And the security forces had apprehended more than 80 who were involved in the -- in violence and who were carrying weapons. The public prosecution has had interviewed or investigated some of them, and others are waiting to be investigated.
What's unfortunate is some of these -- some of these people who are in custody have ties to some who align themselves or say they are aligned to the political powers. Some of them -- some of the weapon users, those who practice violence were hired, hired hands for money, paid to them and that's what the investigation revealed, and also their aggressions.
They admitted, they gave names of who supported -- supplied them with weapons and who supported them. And this has been happening hourly (ph). We saw before now some talk about other parties in the -- during the Maspero incidents and incidents of Mohamed Mahmoud, unfortunate incidents.
And also the incidents of the Cabinet, the road on the Cabinet and also the incidents of foresight (ph). No one could reach that fifth column. Those who are now arrested, the more than 80, they were using weapons yesterday. And four more, they revealed the names of four more, 40 more who are -- who were their accomplices.
All these, the prosecutor general will reveal in due course of all these -- all these admissions and the facts. And they will also name who supported and who financed these incidents, whether they were from inside or outside Egypt, or inside.
Clearly, I say I distinguish between bylaw (ph), between politicians and the national symbols that have -- that are opposing some of our positions and also all those who -- those who are opposing. This is normal. This -- we agree on that. People should oppose and it's accepted. This is how the opposition works in all its colors.
I distinguish between such opposition and between those who spend their money, their corrupt money, that have -- that they have collected by their corruption from their -- from their work with the ex-regime, which committed crimes and those committed crimes with him, I say.
I distinguish with all types of opposition that I have spoke about and for the -- about those who are paying -- spending their corrupt money in order to destroy the country.
That's why I communicate with the -- with the patients and where I would -- with the opposition and I will apply the law strictly on everything that had -- would achieve justice and preserve the nation.
The declaration, the constitution, the declaration of the 21 11 2012 has -- this declaration had set some objection and this is accepted. But those who have abused the -- abuse this and used violence and brought in weapons and paid money, it's time now to be -- to be held -- to hold to account in law all those who have used these weapons.
And today I want to assure you that the -- that now I am issuing this declaration. I think -- I -- they showed that declaration because of the fear of -- for our country. For example, they have now -- for example, one of the accused people on the camel fight -- camel incident during the ex- regime's incidents, one of them -- one of them told us of what happened.
This is an example. This is an incident. This what made me issue this constitution declaration.
And I declare before and I now repeating my declaration, I'm assuring people that the -- that the constitution, the declaration and the decisions was not making them immune, is not meant to -- I did not mean by that to stop law, the legal system from practicing its own -- its rights or to stop citizens from challenging these decisions.
This was not -- as I said before, I only wanted this immunity declaration of -- because in matters of sovereignty and those who -- and what may -- what defines these sovereignty issues is the Egyptian legal system, the fair Egyptian legal system. And the -- and the judicial system in Egypt has always safeguarded the rights of the Egyptians always.
And today he -- it's -- we call upon the judicial system to continue his role, to reassure that there are going to protect the nation and its sovereignty and its institutions and I am sure that this is what the judges are going to do now without any hesitation. My duty in protecting the country and secure its security and stability made me -- made me issue that declaration.
And my duty is what I -- what I would define before, which is the securing the sovereignty and stop anyone from trying to threaten the security or not to make the sovereignty. And I will always carry this responsibility, no matter what the pressures are and in any conditions.
And also the talk on this declaration about Article VI, it wasn't -- this article was not only accept a guarantee to safeguard the interests and the security of the country and its -- and its citizens from irresponsible actions that some groups are practicing without any -- without any conscience.
And if some -- that this article is a repetition of what happened before, I want to clarify now what was at this. It was what happened -- what was there before, and I did not -- I did not (inaudible) anything.
And if this article worries anyone, I do not insist that it should stay because it was -- this is where this had been a precedent. It has been exist -- in existence before, but still I not -- I do not insist on keeping this article if this is the agreement between me, between us and the political powers.
In any case, this, the constitution of declaration will end as soon as we issue the -- make public the results of the referendum, whether the referendum was yes or no.
This -- I intended this declaration to be staged in order to reach a constitution and carry out a referendum and to secure a chance for this great people to say its will and then -- and after the people have said their word, everybody will be subject to their will.
I and many of the -- of those who are of the -- of my -- of our people have spent a lot of time on this subject in the past weeks. We spent a lot of time in order to reach a -- some agreement in -- about issues that worry all Egyptians.
We have -- we have communicated with many political and national symbols and the Egyptian church and heads of parties and others -- and others who are interested in this country and are looking for -- after the interests of this country and its future and its -- the future of its people.
And this resulted in a call to a dialogue which I direct to all the political leaders and all the -- or heads of parties and everybody and all the -- everybody from the youths and all the -- everybody to the -- to meet next Saturday at 8 o'clock -- at 12:30 afternoon (ph) the -- to meet at the presidential quarters, to reach an agreement, a -- to reach a decision that would bring unity to the nation, to reach a majority decision by all these powers if we could not achieve a consensus.
We can -- we can also talk about the elections, the law for the elections and how the elections are going to be and also some subjects for dialogue, a road map -- a road map after the referendum also, whether the referendum's result was yes or no.
The pure blood that was shed during the incidents in the past two days will not be wasted. And those who have supplied arms and money and are being now called to the -- will be held to account before law -- the law.
And now I can only say I pay my condolences to the families, the fathers, the mothers and the children, the spouses of all the -- of those martyrs, praying to God that they will He will have mercy on their souls and accept them -- and accept their martyrdom in His goals to please him and also for those injured as well our brothers, our children, also these people I want to look after, afford them all medical help and wish them good health from what they suffered during these unfortunate incidents.
The state, the government was -- is ready to conduct a referendum if the -- if the people agree to referendum, the institutions of the government are going to be built on it. It will be used to build the institutions.
But if the people refuse it, refuse this, say no, then I will call them to either to an election for laying down the new constitution and declaring them -- declaring now this because I want to inform everybody that I'm not using this as power, as something to advance my power. The decision is going to be for the people. The people who have -- who are -- should be protecting this revolution.
Now I call upon all the Egyptian people to everybody who loves this country and I'm sure that all wish stability and to this country, I call upon all those that renounce violence and not allow anyone to exercise violence.
A peaceful demonstration has nothing attacking to buildings or parties look at it -- look out -- look as this is something that we all refuse, reject; I call upon the Egyptian people to stand firm against all these dishonorable actions and not to waste its time in the -- in such actions and violence. And I call upon those who are demonstrating.
You are -- you have the right to demonstrate but as I always said, peaceful demonstration, not using -- without threatening the citizens or attacking or attacking or attacking public or private property or companies or institutions or ministries or embassies. There is no room for that at all.
We all walk forward and will look forward and will in that -- with dialogue, with dialogue that I -- the (inaudible) that I am calling everybody to now.
And with love and in law, but also with firmness from -- for firmness against anybody who becomes an outlaw, who -- and this way, our Egypt -- our Egypt will recover from its -- from its dark days under a dark regime - - under a dark regime that took hold of it. I wish you all success and I wish you all cooperation and to communicate. God save our Egypt. And God will be our guide. Peace be upon you.
AMANPOUR: So a long 35-minute speech from the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, after two weeks of turmoil. And it does seem to be some major concessions in there to the opposition.
He said that he was going to call all elements of the national identity, he said, party political leaders, members of the Egyptian church -- the Christian church, no doubt -- leaders, as I say, of different parties and national symbols, including youth representatives, to the presidential headquarters on Saturday, this Saturday, December the 8th, precisely at 12:30 pm Cairo time, to talk about how to proceed, to have what he called national dialogue, how to proceed in this constitutional crisis.
We're going to take a short break now and we're going to come back with our guest, Tarek Masoud from Harvard University, to analyze this important statement.
AMANPOUR: We are back, just after President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt has addressed his nation in a live speech.
It's the first time in many, many days since this two weeks of turmoil has erupted, in part over his emergency decree that he issued November 24th, giving himself powers that sought -- so that he was above question and also, of course, ramming a draft constitution through that worried many people in Egypt.
Now what he said was the Article VI of his emergency declaration, which basically states that the president has all necessary measures to guarantee the safeguard and the safety of Egypt and its citizens, he said, quote, "If this worries anyone, I do not insist that it stays."
He went on to say that the decree, his emergency decree, would be lifted after the results of the referendum, whether it was a yes or a no, and he said that if there was a no vote on the referendum, then he would talk about elections to redo a constitutional process.
He also said that it was time for national unity and he issued a call to party leaders, as he put it, to all national symbols; he called for the Egyptian church representatives and others, including representatives of the youth movement and anyone, he said, who was interested and important in this movement, to come to the presidential headquarters on Saturday, this Saturday, December the 8th.
He gave a time, 12:30 pm, to meet and to try to reach a decision, he said, that will bring unity to the nation, to reach either a majority decision by all these powers if we cannot reach a consensus.
So what will this mean? And how will it affect the street?
Reza Sayah is there in Cairo.
You heard what the president said. The people have been waiting for him to address them. It sounded like he was addressing their concerns, and he said he had heard their concerns.
How do you think it's being received?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, depending on what side you're on, you're going to interpret and process this speech very differently.
And based on what I heard in the speech, based on what I've seen here in Cairo over the past couple of weeks, and based on the reaction that I'm hearing from the opposition factions right now, who are still yelling, "Leave, leave, leave," I don't think this conflict is over.
I think a lot of people were waiting to see if the president would back down from his position. And I think clearly he did not. This was a part call for everyone to get together and talk; it was part call for calm. And it was also part stern warning to the protesters to stop the violence or face the consequences.
At some point, he tried to be reassuring to the opposition factions and focused on those controversial decrees that he announced two weeks ago, that sparked this conflict.
He tried to tell everyone that this was not an effort to squeeze out the opposition factions, that he was only doing what he was elected to do, to establish these democratic institutions, the parliament and draft the constitution.
But, again, based on the reaction that we're hearing, these people are not satisfied. Remember, their demand is for the draft constitution to be annulled, canceled; they want the process to be started over again and the president in his speech gave no indication that he plans to do that, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Reza, what kind of a crowd is there now? You're outside the presidential palace.
SAYAH: It's not a large crowd, but they're certainly boisterous and loud and spirited. I'd say 4,000 to 5,000 -- there you hear the chants again. And we've been talking to these opposition factions over the past couple of days. And my impression is it's beyond what's in the constitution, what's written in the constitution.
My impression is that there's deep mistrust between these two sides. They seem to come from different places; they seem to have different ideologies, different values, different world views, different visions for Egypt. And both sides are fighting for the future of Egypt. They want their vision to be the future. And neither side seems to be giving up, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Reza Sayah, thank you very much. And we turn now to Tarek Masoud.
We were chatting with you about what's in the constitution just before President Morsi gave his speech. You listened to his speech. How do you characterize what you heard?
MASOUD: It was a very -- it was an interesting speech, Christiane, because it was really kind of schizophrenic, in a way. On the one hand, the president very much did use this kind of old Mubarak-era language, where he painted segments of the opposition as provocateurs and he called some of them terrorists.
He issued, as Reza has mentioned, a very stern warning that these people would be punished. He said that the protesters wanted to impose the will of the minority on the majority and he even said that they wanted to enact a coup against legitimacy. So there's this very stern language on the one hand.
Then as you did note, Christiane, there were some concessions. For example, he did say that this particularly bad article in his constitutional declaration, which empowered him to do anything he saw fit to protect the revolution, he said, that would go.
He also then putting date certain on the dialogue that he's been calling for for a while with the opposition -- as you noted, he wanted to do it on Saturday. But it's not clear to me that these are really substantive concessions.
So for example, with the constitutional declaration, the issue isn't really just Article VI. It's Article II, which says that every decision that the president makes and has made since he got elected is immune to any kind of review by any authority.
And so it was very telling to me that he didn't mention that. So these -- if these were concessions, they were merely the opening gambit in what I think he's thinking is going to be a long process of bargaining.
AMANPOUR: Do you -- how do you view what he basically said? He said if you have problems with Article VI -- he assumed -- or at least he was saying in his speech -- that it's Article VI that everybody is upset about. And this thing could be dropped.
You've mentioned -- you mentioned he should have gone further and talked about Article II. But when he said that the referendum would continue and that if there was a no vote, then there would be elections and then a new constitution would be drafted.
What do you make of that?
MASOUD: Again, I don't think necessarily, Christiane, that that is a concession. You know, a concession would have been to address some of the core demands of the opposition.
So the core demands, as you noted, are really two that they want to invalidate or get rid of the constitutional declaration that gave him all of these powers and immunity from oversight, which it still does; and then the second pillar of their demands is to get rid of this draft constitution which they find problematic.
Now the president could have conceded on one or the other or both of these. He could have said, for example, I am now going to freeze the constitutional declaration, but we're going to go ahead with the referendum. He could have done something like that and that would have actually divided, I think, the opposition.
But in fact, if you just look at the substance of his concessions, it's not -- it's not surprising to me that the opposition wouldn't view this as very significant.
AMANPOUR: And what do you make of the fact that -- I mean, do you think a referendum is going to be able to be organized, even?
MASOUD: I don't know. I mean, I think there are serious questions about whether the judicial authorities that should oversee the referendum process are actually ready, willing or able to do that. And then again, of course, we have all of this street violence; it may be dying down somewhat, but we don't know what the coming days will bring.
So, certainly, if you're going to have a referendum, these are not the ideal conditions in which to have them, and we could expect more acts of violence to happen around them.
AMANPOUR: And to be fair, you're right; I was struck by how long he spent on the violence and, as he calls, saboteurs and members of the ex- regime. But he did make a distinction between peaceful protests and violence.
And, again, I'm interested because I wonder whether this speech will have any impact and what kind of impact it will have on the street and whether, as many people think, a lot of Egyptians just want the constitution and the referendum to pass and they want to be able to get on with their daily lives.
Or do you think this speech might have even turned that?
MASOUD: So, Christiane, it's a very good question; you know, when I was listening to the beginning of President Morsi's speech -- and he's somebody actually that I've interviewed a few times and I've had some experiences with -- and when he began by recounting all of the very sad things that happened in Egypt over the past few days and the violence, even I found myself feeling some sympathy for this man at the helm at this difficult time.
And I could imagine lots of Egyptians who are listening to the speech at that moment were ready to listen. It's just that he took what I feel was a sort of sharp turn in being very confrontational and though you're right; he did make a distinction between the legitimate protesters and the illegitimate protesters, at the same time, it's still -- it could still be viewed as quite chilling, in a way.
AMANPOUR: And I think just before we go to a break, to say that he also addressed people's concerns about a new sort of dictator -- a new kind of dictatorship, he said "I am not trying to advance my own power."
Stand by, Tarek; we're going to take a break and what we want to do is actually focus on the articles in this draft constitution which are also causing so much anxiety, when we come back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. You're looking at a live shot of pictures outside the presidential palace not far from the heart of Cairo.
The crowds there are smaller than they have been over the last couple of days and President Morsi has just finished addressing the nation after this two weeks of turmoil that was created by his emergency decree and also by the constitutional draft that has been rammed through.
We've been talking a lot about the process. But I want to turn again to my guest, Tarek Masoud of Harvard University, to talk about the specific elements of this draft constitution and what seems to be really sort of upsetting certainly members of the liberal opposition and the secular opposition.
So the bottom line, really, for them is is this going to be an Islamic fundamentalist state? And they are concerned that the new drafts adds elements that turns it more Islamic and more law, based on actual rules of Sharia rather than just the principles of Islam. So tell me where exactly the new constitution stands on that.
MASOUD: Oh, great. So first of all, Christiane, let me just take a slight issue with the way that you characterize the opposition to the constitution. So while a lot of the opposition to the constitution is very much based on the fact that the new constitution is very religiously conservative, a lot of the opposition is based on the way that the process was non-consensual. And so that's important to know.
There are really two issues with this constitution, if we look at its substance, right? One set of issues has to do with the religious issue and but the other set of issues also has to do with powers of the presidency, freedoms, rights to organize politically. And those also are not where the liberals would want them to be in the constitution.
AMANPOUR: But Tarek what does --
AMANPOUR: -- what is precisely, for instance, the fact that they've added a clause about the al-Azhar mosque being able to interpret or consult?
MASOUD: Yes, fantastic. So Article II of the current draft constitution, just like Article II of the '71 constitution that was amended in 1980, says that the principles of the Sharia are the main source of legislation.
This is a very vague formulation and lots of Egyptians, secular, non- secular, they could live with it because the principles of Sharia were thought to be these very vague principles that also undergird all kinds of justice systems throughout the world.
So what has happened are -- in this new draft constitution, first of all, as you note, Article IV states that Article IV states that al-Azhar, which is this -- the largest center of Islamic learning in the Sunni world, will be consulted on laws as they related to the Sharia. So that's one issue.
And people are concerned that, because other changes happen to al- Azhar post-revolution are going to perhaps make that institution more dominated by Salafis and other Islamists, that this is -- it will actually have a deleterious effect on the law.
But even more than that, Christiane, is this new article, which is all the way in the back of the constitution, called Article CCXIX which is almost like a little trick where it says basically -- Article II says that the principles of the Sharia are the source of legislation, but then Article CCXIX defines the principles of Sharia in a way that is very explicit and in a way that uses the specific terms of Sunni jurisprudence.
So it changes the principles of Sharia from being a big, capacious thing to being something very narrow. And I think that's also concerning to people.
AMANPOUR: And when I spoke to the Egyptian prime minister earlier this week, he told me that that would just be consultative and the legislatures didn't have to take what the mosque actually said. So, again, it's all in the interpretation and that's what's worrying.
Just very briefly, when it comes to women's rights, are they worse off under the draft constitution than they were?
MASOUD: Certainly there are no articles in the new constitution that force the state to work on behalf of equality between men and women. So for example, there used to be an article that demanded that the state would work to achieve equality between men and women.
Now there's nothing of the sort. There's a non-discrimination clause in the constitution, but it doesn't actually mention women as a protected class. It just says there will be no discrimination.
And there's a particular article, Article X, that goes on at great length about the family and about the Egyptian state's role in protecting the family. And that's the only place where women are really mentioned. And they're only mentioned there as either mothers or widows.
MASOUD: So you can imagine that from the standpoint of women, it's problematic.
AMANPOUR: And we'll be watching. Tarek Masoud, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
MASOUD: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And again, President Morsi has addressed the nation and the headline is that he is calling all members of the opposition to come to the presidential palace this Saturday to try to come to some kind of consensus, some kind of national unity, that the referendum will go ahead, he says.
And if it's yes or no, the referendum on the constitutional draft, he will then lift his emergency decree. Will that be enough to stop this turmoil? We don't know. Thanks for watching. I'm Christiane Amanpour reporting from New York.