Thousands Rally in Egypt Ahead of Referendum Vote

Posted December 21st, 2012 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Egyptians have poured onto streets in Alexandria for rallies ahead of a second day of polling on a controversial constitutional referendum.

Demonstrators waved flags and chanted as they marched through the city on Friday. Conservative Islamists had called for mass rallies before Saturday's second leg of voting on the proposed constitution.

The measure has the support of President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups. However, members of the liberal, secular and Christian opposition fear it will erode civil liberties because it increases the role of Islamic law and does not mention women's rights.

The proposal was approved by a largely Islamic committee last month after liberal and Christian members walked out, complaining their views were being ignored.

Last Friday, a well-known ultraconservative Salifi cleric was trapped inside of an Alexandria mosque for hours while supporters and opponents of the constitution clashed outside. The cleric had angered some worshippers when he voiced support for the referendum.

The remaining provinces vote will on the referendum on Saturday, a week after voters in Cairo, Alexandria and a group of other provinces cast ballots.

Unofficial results from the first day of polling show almost 57-percent of voters approved the measure.