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Egypt constitutional vote: ‘Things are definitely worse than under the old regime’

December 23, 2012
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Source: London Telegraph

[...]

“Things are definitely worse than under the old regime,” said Gamal Eid, of the Arabic Human Rights Initiative. “It is because of the Islamists having power – their sense that they have won.”

That is only part of the story. Despite regular descriptions of ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s old dictatorship as “secular”, it too made Egypt a country constitutionally obliged to follow the “principles of Sharia”. The laws it promulgated were wide enough and flexible enough to turn the Islamist tap on and off at will, according to the Mubarak’s regime’s short-term interests.

Blasphemy laws have been in place since 1937, and can be used to defend Christianity as well as Islam. But in practice the law was deployed regularly, both as a sop to the Muslim Brotherhood and also simply as a means of state repression.

Nevertheless, Mr Eid says there is a sense that religion can now be invoked to pursue any manner of grievances, in a way designed to emphasise a conservative vision of society.

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