After months of physically-gruelling training and competition, Egyptian mountain-climber, entrepreneur and all-round inspiration, Omar Samra has landed himself one of Axe's coveted tickets to space. Amy Mowafi applauds the unstoppable shooting star.
Here is what I have always found to be the strangest thing about Omar Samra. He is the most unassuming man you will ever meet.
Yes, there is a strength and presence in his physicality, honed and hewed by the years of mountain climbing and physically-grueling thrill seeking. But unless he’s taking to a stage, a school, a conference room, tasked with motivating and inspiring – something that he clearly relishes – he will keep his charisma firmly tucked away. He will not regale you with tales of his adventures (unless pushed and prodded and only then in the most sincerely humble and self-depreciating of vernaculars). He will not draw everyone in the room towards him with the power of his presence or any of that special-person cliché nonsense. His voice is not big or booming, really quite the opposite. Sometimes you have to lean in a little to even catch what he’s saying. Whenever you see a picture of him atop a mountain or on some far-flung corner of the earth, he always seems a little surprised to be there.
Because Omar Samra doesn’t talk about doing, he doesn’t ‘do’ for the praise or the accolades or the awards (although they have been plenty coming). He does because he is seemingly driven by a desire to truly test what is possible, for his mind, his soul, his body. For you and for me. For everyone who has an outlandish dream but thinks it is unattainable, hampered only by a lack of belief.
When I first met him and would joke about climbing a mountain, and tagging along on one his big adventures, he would shrug and say, “Sounds good, we’re going in a couple months, want to sign up?” As if climbing a mountain were as easy as doing my makeup.
He lacks that voice in his head that says it can’t be done, or perhaps he’s learned to smother it beneath the force of his passion, perseverance and desire.
And so he has become the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest and then to summit all seven of the highest peaks in the world. He has traversed the iciest stretches of landmass in the world and while he was at it, founded Wild Guanabana, an award winning travel business - one that gives thousands the opportunity to grab life by the balls and just have an adventure.
And now after years of reaching for the stars (and begging all of us to do the same) Omar Samra is heading for the stars. Not proverbially, or metaphorically, but quite literally getting in a spaceship and heading for the bloody stars.
After winning an AXE competition ticket, which qualified him for the final round of the Space Competition in Orlando, USA, it was officially announced, late last night, that he had landed one of the 13 coveted spots on the spaceship, with each person selected based on physically and mentally grueling competitive space-simulation challenges. “Tonight was one of those epic moments in a man’s life,” he wrote on his Instagram when the results were announced, clutching, of course, the Egyptian flag. “We do this to inspire a future brighter and better generation.”
In an era when Egypt seems only to be famous, or infamous, for its never-ending revolutions and revolutionaries, Omar Samra flies the flag (literally – trucking around that red, white and black, wherever he goes) for the best type of Egyptian and best type of human. One who is defiant and dazzling in the face of life’s
(Reuters) - Egypt will hold a referendum on a new constitution in the middle of January, a government minister said on Monday.
Hany Mahmoud, minister of administrative development, said the vote would be held nationwide over two days. "We are talking about mid-January," Mahmoud said in an interview with Egyptian TV channel CBC.
The new constitution is an important milestone in the political transition plan drawn up by the army-installed interim government that took office after Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was deposed by the military on July 3.
A 50-member assembly finished the draft last week and handed it to interim President Adly Mansour, who has yet to set the referendum date. Mansour is expected to set the date this week, Mahmoud added in the interview, which was viewed on YouTube.
The draft removes Islamist-inspired provisions written into the Egyptian constitution approved in a referendum last year while Mursi was still in office. Among other changes, it also deepens the autonomy of the already powerful military.
The draft also allows the authorities to switch the order of elections expected next year. The plan unveiled in July required parliamentary elections to be held first, but the new constitution would allow a presidential election first.
(Reporting by Ali Abdellati; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Jackie Frank and Lisa Shumaker)
NY Times, by Alaa Al Aswany
CAIRO — In December 1933, an air race from Cairo to Alexandria was held. The first plane to cross the finish line was piloted by a 26-year-old woman named Lotfia El Nadi, Egypt’s first female aviator.
To have a flying career was not easy for Lotfia. Her father had rejected the idea, but she did not despair. She persuaded the director of the Institute of Aviation to let her work, free of charge, as his secretary — in exchange for flying lessons. As she later explained, “I learned to fly because I love to be free.”
Lotfia became a hero and a national treasure in the eyes of Egyptians. Women saw her as an inspiration in their struggle for equal rights, and many young women followed her example by applying for flying lessons. Egyptian women made advances in equality throughout the period of the monarchy, which ended in 1953. After the republic of Egypt was established, under Gamal Abdel Nasser, women continued to advance, achieving positions in universities, Parliament and the senior judiciary.
The historical advancement of Egyptian women contrasts sharply with the results of a new Thomson Reuters Foundation survey that found Egypt ranked overall worst among 22 Arab countries for discrimination in law, sexual harassment and the paucity of female political representation. Why do Lotfia’s granddaughters suffer from problems today that she managed to overcome 80 years ago?
After the 1973 war in the Middle East, the price of oil shot up. This gave Gulf states unprecedented power, while the economic shock forced millions of Egyptians to emigrate to work there. Many of these Egyptians came home having absorbed radical Wahhabi values.
Egypt’s tradition of moderate Islam recognized women’s rights and encouraged women to study and work. By contrast, for Wahhabis, a woman’s job is to please her husband and provide offspring. Wahhabi preachers promote female genital mutilation, to control women’s sexuality. A woman must cover her body completely and may not study, work or travel. She cannot even leave the house without her husband’s permission.
Wahhabism has influenced all Islamic societies and movements, including Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. As it spread in Egypt, more women started to wear the hijab, or head scarf. But this did not create a virtuous society; it led to the reverse.
Until the end of the 1970s, many Egyptian women still went without head scarves, wearing modern Western-style dress, yet incidents of sexual harassment were rare. Now, with the spread of the hijab, harassment has taken on epidemic proportions. A 2008 study from the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights revealed that 83 percent of women interviewed had been subjected to sexual harassment at least once, and that 50 percent experienced it on a daily basis.
Why is it that men did not harass Egyptian women when they wore short skirts but that sexual harassment has increased against women in head scarves? When ultraconservative doctrine dehumanizes women, reducing them to objects, it legitimizes acts of sexual aggression against them.
The Mubarak regime had various differences with the followers of political Islam, but the two camps converged in their contempt toward women. In spite of some formal reforms instigated by Suzanne Mubarak, who wanted to appear as an enlightened first lady, the Mubarak era witnessed a deterioration in women’s rights.
Even so, it was not until 2005 that sexual harassment became an organized form of retribution against Egyptian women who took part in anti-Mubarak demonstrations. The security apparatus paid thugs, known as “beltagiya,” to gang up on a woman attending a demonstration, tear off her clothes and molest her. This sexualized form of punishment continued through the period of the military regime and into the Brotherhood’s rule.
On Dec. 17, 2011, during a demonstration against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces near Tahrir Square in Cairo, soldiers pulled a female protester’s clothes off and dragged her along the ground, stomping on her with their boots. A video of the attack went viral, eliciting the sympathy of millions. Solidarity committees were formed, and the victim of the attack became an icon for Egyptian women. But the Islamists, at that time allied with the council, mocked the victim, blaming her for not staying in the home — as was seemly for a respectable woman.
During the revolution, millions of Egyptian women went out and bravely faced snipers’ bullets, but those who gained power played down their bravery and attempted to sideline them. After the 2012 election that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, there were only 10 female members of Parliament out of a total of 508. President Mohamed Morsi’s later attempt to rewrite the Egyptian Constitution would also have removed the only female judge on the Supreme Constitutional Court.
In short, the Islamists strove to eradicate the gains Egyptian women had made. They tried to overturn the law punishing doctors who carried out female genital mutilation, and refused to consider the marriage of minors as a form of human trafficking by claiming that Islam permitted a girl as young as 10 years old to be married.
Women’s rights are a bellwether of the current conflict in Egypt. The revolutionaries are fighting for equality, whereas the reactionary forces of both the Brotherhood and the Mubarak regime are trying to strip women of their political and social rights and make them subject to men’s authority.
The conflict will eventually be resolved in favor of women because the revolution represents a future that no one can prevent. In 2002, Lotfia El Nadi died at age 95. Shortly before her death, she said: “I don’t recognize Egypt as it is now, but the Egypt I knew will return. I am certain of that.”
Alaa Al Aswany is the author of “The Yacoubian Building.” This article was translated by Russell Harris from the Arabic.
Via The Vancouver Sun, Associated Press, by Hamza Hendawi
During his year as president, Egypt's Mohammed Morsi cultivated ties with Islamic radicals, making them a key support for his rule by pardoning dozens of jailed militants, restraining the military from an all-out offensive against jihadis in Sinai and giving their hard-line sheiks a platform to spread their rhetoric. Now with Morsi ousted and imprisoned, investigators are looking into possibly putting him on trial for links to jihadis, accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood of being behind a wave of violence by Sinai-based militants in retaliation for the July 3 military coup that removed the Islamists from power, military and security officials say.
Since Morsi's ouster, violence by jihadi groups has escalated into a full-fledged insurgency, with increasing shootings, bombings and al-Qaida-style suicide attacks against troops and police in Sinai. The attacks have spread outside the restive peninsula with bombings and assassinations in the capital, Cairo, and other parts of the country.
Military suggests link The investigation marks a new track of possible prosecution against Morsi, who is already on trial on charges of inciting murder over a December attack by Islamists on protesters and who also is under investigation on possible other charges.
It also represents a new turn in the crackdown that the military-backed government has waged against Morsi's Brotherhood. Security forces have been seeking to crush continuous protests by his Islamist supporters, arresting several thousand and killing hundreds since the coup.
The investigation also comes as authorities are increasingly depicting their crackdown as part of a war against terrorism and overtly blaming the Brotherhood for militant violence. They have used the fight against terrorism to justify tougher measures against all protests, including by secular activists opposed to military power and police abuses. The Brotherhood has denied any connection to violence.
The security and military officials said they believe Morsi is at least "indirectly" linked to the militant violence, saying they are investigating whether he and his Brotherhood had contacts with the groups while in power, cultivating them to bolster their rule against opponents.
The officials, from the military, the Interior Ministry and National Security Agency, who all have first-hand knowledge of the ongoing investigations, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the probe.
They said the security agencies are analyzing communications by Morsi - making clear that, as widely suspected, the agencies spied on the president during his year in office. Also among those under investigation are two top presidential aides of Morsi, Essam
el-Haddad and Khaled el-Qazaz, who continue to be held in secret military detention, they said.
Campaign of violence Suspicions that militants launched their campaign of violence as part of a deal with the Brotherhood have been fuelled by statements by leading members of the group.
During Morsi's final days in office, the Brotherhood's most powerful figure, deputy leader Khairat el-Shater, threatened in a meeting with military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi that removing the president would prompt militants to take up arms against the state, according to el-Sissi's account of the meeting.
Another Brotherhood leader, Mohamed el-Beltagy, told a television interviewer shortly after the coup that militants in Sinai would halt their attacks if Morsi is released and reinstated.
During his final months, Morsi grew closer to radicals. On June 15, he chaired a rally in a Cairo stadium to support Syrian rebels, appearing alongside radical clerics who
denounced Shiite Muslims and Morsi's opponents in Egypt as infidels.
But an outright alliance with jihadis to fight back against the coup would be a significant, dangerous move for the Brotherhood, which forswore violence in the 1970s and sought to depict itself as a moderate movement.
Refaat Sayyed Ahmed, head of the Haifa Center for Arab Studies and an expert on Islamic groups, said that while in office, Morsi "encouraged and strengthened" militants and "cashed in on their presence, but we have no proof that he nurtured them as a last-resort card against his opponents."
The security officials said they are probing whether Morsi and the Brotherhood struck a deal with the militants to step up violence in retaliation for his ouster - a claim frequently echoed by opponents of the group.
"What is happening now, from the attacks in Sinai to the bombings of military intelligence offices and the targeted killings is not random," said Makram Mohammed Ahmed, an expert on Islamic movements who is a sharp critic of the Brotherhood.
"There is a maestro for all that and there is a plan that was put in place well before the execution." The officials said investigators are also looking into a series of pardons Morsi gave to militants.
The generals who ran Egypt for nearly 17 months after Mubarak's ouster also freed jailed militants, including the brother of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, Mohammed.
The pace of pardons, however, picked up significantly after Morsi took office. Morsi issued nine decrees with pardons starting soon after he was inaugurated, releasing some 2,000 people.
A panel of defence and security officials is now reviewing the pardons to determine if some of those released should be re-arrested, the officials said.© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Time.com, by Ashraf Khalil
Egyptian news sites kept readers updated on how Sisi was faring against Turkey's ErdoganWhen TIME announced on Thursday that Egypt’s Defense Minister, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, had topped TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year poll with more than 440,000 votes his supporters were triumphant. Ahmed Abu Hashima, an Egyptian steel magnate and Sisi supporter, was one of the first to publicly congratulate Sisi on Twitter. Writing in Arabic, he called the victory an, “appreciation for [Sisi's] national role and the love of Egyptians towards him.”
Sisi’s success reflected the genuine popularity of a man who led what was essentially a military coup in July against the democratically elected government of then President Mohammed Morsi. Sisi remains the most powerful political figure in Egypt. The win was driven by hundreds of thousands of votes from inside Egypt; the country of about 85 million provided more votes than more populous nations like India and the United States. Many of those voters came via websites like Alwafd.org, one of the several Egyptian news portals that drove voters to the poll. These included youm7.com and el-balad.com. These sites tracked the voting throughout the week and informed readers when voting would close and how close the gap was between Sisi and the person who came second, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
(POLL: See how our readers voted)
TIME’s Person of the Year is chosen by the magazine’s editors and will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 11. Part of the Sisi vote may have been driven by a desire among his supporters to sway the editors’ decision. An article earlier this week in El-Balad linked to the online poll page and asked, “Would (the editors) listen to Egyptian votes and select their Defense Minister as the man of the year for 2013 so his picture could be printed on the cover of the world’s most famous magazine in its annual issue?”
Al-Wafd in particular has made no secret of its Sisi cheerleading. The website and newspaper are extensions of the Wafd Party, an opposition party that has been heavily pro-military and critical of Morsi’s allies in the Muslim Brotherhood. Wafd strongly backed Sisi’s ouster of Morsi. Wafd Party president Sayed Al-Badawi has already endorsed the widely-rumored idea of Sisi running for president next year.
“It wasn’t an organized campaign. But the voting did come from certain news outlets. These are all newspapers that back the direction of the country and the secular trend,” said Moustafa Shafiq, managing editor for Al-Wafd. “People feel very strongly and I’m sure there was a lot of repeat voting.”
A survey of the most prominent pro-Sisi Facebook pages in Arabic and English doesn’t reveal a massive organized get-out-the-vote campaign. Most users simply linked to the poll and later noted its results with satisfaction in growing numbers of comments. Months after the military takeover, the results suggest Sisi’s popular support has staying power. “He’s a man who represents the will of the people,” said Shafiq. (The result also suggest that the Internet remains a key factor in Egyptian politics. Social media played a key role in the 2011 revolution that ousted then President Hosni Mubarak.)
Part of the motivation for Sisi voters may also have been a desire among supporters of the military to change the image of the military takeover. Many backers of the military coup have felt misunderstood and unfairly judged by Western governments, human rights organizations and correspondents.
A spokesman for the Egyptian military, speaking on condition that his name not be published, said the Sisi votes were proof of the enduring social support for the military’s actions and Sisi’s leadership in general.
“This doesn’t tell us anything that Egyptians did not already know. But perhaps it is a good time for the whole world to see it clearly,” he said.
In less than a year Sisi has become a household name with his face appearing on T-shirts, banners and chocolates. But the true level of his popularity can only be tested at the voting booth. Speculation as to his intentions has been a media obsession in Egypt for months. The elections are set for sometime in the first half of 2014, pending ratification of a new constitution.
Asharq Al-Awsat, by Mohamed Hassan Shaaban
Mixed reactions to new draft constitution as Egyptians focus on most controversial articles
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—There has been a mixed reaction to Egypt’s draft constitution, sent on Tuesday to interim President Adly Mansour for approval before it is submitted to a public referendum. Feedback on the constitution from Egyptian legal experts and political parties has ranged from cautious optimism to outright rejection, with many in the country viewing the forthcoming public referendum on the document, expected in late January, to be the first real hurdle to the transitional roadmap in the country.
Egypt’s 50-member constitution committee began drafting the country’s new constitution in late July, after the previous constitution—drafted in 2012 by an Islamist-dominated body—was suspended following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Mursi. Speaking to the press on Saturday prior to a final vote, committee chairman Amr Moussa announced that it had taken a total of 720 hours of deliberation to reach consensus on the draft constitution articles. However, the final vote on the 247 draft articles—including 42 new articles—churned out a number of unexpected changes.
Tahani Al-Gabali, vice president of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, was one of the leading critics of the 2012 constitution, and has welcomed the new draft constitution.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Gabali said: “The 2012 constitution . . . contained a number of basic threats. Most importantly, it laid the foundations for a religious state by naming the Senior Scholars’ Committee as a reference and explicitly stated, for the first time, that Egypt was a Sunni state.”
According to the new constitution, although Al-Azhar remains the “primary reference” for Islamic issues, Al-Azhar’s Senior Scholars’ Committee is no longer responsible for deciding if legislation conforms to the principles of Islamic Shari’a law. This right has been restored to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. The new constitution removes a number of controversial articles that strengthened the role of Islam and the Islamists in the Egyptian state, including banning parties formed on the basis of religion and enshrining “absolute” freedom of belief. The draft constitution also removes a 2012 amendment to Article 2 which gave a detailed definition of the “principles” of Islamic Shari’a law.
Gabali told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The suspended constitution mixed the Arab nation, which is a political nation, with the Islamic nation, which is a religious nation, and this served as the seed for an Islamic state.”
She added: “However, the current constitution has disposed with all this and preserved its Egyptian identity, represented by Article 2, which had been in place for 28 years since the 1971 constitution.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has strongly rejected the draft, stating that “abusive putschists” were attempting to “distort Egypt’s legitimate constitution,” in reference to the controversial 2012 document adopted by Mursi. If passed by public referendum, the draft constitution could significantly restrict the Muslim Brotherhood’s future activities, particularly following the enshrinement of articles explicitly banning political parties based on religion, in addition to parties that participate in “activities against democracy” and, perhaps most importantly, political groups whose inner workings are non-transparent.
Despite this, the Salafist Al-Nour Party—which secured the second-highest number of seats in the 2012 parliamentary election—has announced that it backs the draft constitution, and will call on supporters to vote “yes” in the forthcoming public referendum.
“The Nour Party will take part in this referendum and will take part with ‘yes’, out of our concern for bringing about stability and so that we spare the country more anarchy,” party leader Younes Makhyoun announced during a press conference on Thursday.
Ahmed Mekki, a former justice minister and a member of the independent judiciary movement, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he believes that the draft constitution includes a number of flaws.
Mekki said that his main objection to the new constitution is that it contains “too much padding.”
He said: “A constitution, in essence, should be a document that regulates the relationship between the authorities. All the other additions may be good in themselves, but the constitution is not the place for them.”
He added: “In many cases, these stipulations also cannot be practically implemented on the ground.”
The new constitution includes a number of contentious articles that some Egyptians believe have no place in a modern constitution. They include articles on organ donation and random housing (squatting), as well as one stipulating a minimum percentage of the gross national product that should be spent on education and healthcare.
The former justice minister added that the new constitution abandoned a number of issues of primary importance, including guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The new constitution also does not specify the number of Constitutional Court judges, whereas the 2012 constitution specified that there should be 11 judges on Egypt’s most senior court panel.
Mekki also criticized constitutional articles relating to Egypt’s parliament. The new constitution contains no references to the Shura Council—the Upper House of Parliament—while also including detailed text regarding the way that parliament can be dissolved.
According to the new constitution, Egypt’s parliament can be disbanded and new parliamentary elections called if the legislative body fails to endorse a president’s choice for prime minister and then fails to pick its own replacement within a 60-day period.
Former Egyptian Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There should be a stipulation that the People’s Assembly cannot be dissolved, since it was formed by the votes of the Egyptian people . . . because this is democracy, respecting the will of the people.”
Mekki added: “The constitution should also have stipulated that a sitting president cannot be removed, instead installing specific regulations for early elections if necessary.”
The new constitution includes an article allowing parliament to call a vote of no confidence in the president. If two-thirds of parliament endorses the motion, a public referendum is called which, if passed, sees the president is removed and new presidential elections held.
For his part, Maher Al-Buhairi, a former head of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, said that the 1971 constitution remains the best constitutional draft in the country’s history, discounting amendments made in 2005 and 2007 that altered the way the president is elected.
Buhairi criticized the 2012 constitution, saying that its drafting process was dominated by a “single faction,” a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Commenting on the new draft constitution, he described it as being “fair and impartial,” and praised the articles relating to social justice.
The Tamarod Movement, which played a key role in Mursi’s ouster, has launched a campaign calling for Egyptians to vote “yes” in the forthcoming constitutional referendum.
“This constitution is not the best, but it is better than the 1971 and 2012 constitutions,” the Tamarod Movement announced via Facebook on Thursday. “This constitution secures the rights of workers, farmers, teachers, fishermen, and all other Egyptians.”
Egypt’s most senior religious bodies have been careful not to influence any forthcoming vote on the constitution. Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb has called on all Egyptians to participate in the referendum, stressing that it must take place in a free and fair democratic manner, but has not called on Egyptians to vote in a particular way.
The same applies to Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, who described participation in the forthcoming referendum a “national duty” on Thursday.
In previous comments, the Coptic Pope had described the amended constitution as “balanced” and “an important step on the path to democracy.”
For her part, a senior member of the Constitution Party, Omaima Maher, told Asharq Al-Awsat that her party is not yet clear on how it will vote in the referendum.
She said: “We have many reservations on a number of articles, most prominently on the powers of the military. However, rejecting the constitution serves the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“We, as the youth of the revolution, stand against military rule, and also the Muslim Brotherhood, and so we are facing a dilemma,” Maher added.
The draft constitution includes a number of controversial articles regarding Egypt’s powerful military institution, including military trials for civilians accused of “direct” attacks on military premises, personnel, equipment, funds, and documents. The constitution also grants the military the right to choose its own defense minister.
The constitution stipulates that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must approve the appointment of Egypt’s defense minister, at least for the next eight years. This arguably places the military above civilian oversight for the next two presidential terms, while also raising questions about the president’s powers during this period.
It also raises questions about the military’s role in the transitional period, particularly as speculation remains rife over whether popular Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi intends to run in the next presidential elections, as many Egyptians are calling for.
The draft constitution also keeps faith with a number of other articles that benefit the military, including ensuring that the military budget remains outside the realm of public scrutiny, with just the overall total expenditure being published.
Ahram OnlineSalafist Nour Party head Younis Makhioun says his party will agree to the amendments made to the Egyptian constitution in the upcoming referendum 'even though the constitution includes articles that the party does not agree upon
Salafist Nour Party said they will agree to the amendments made to the Egyptian constitution in the upcoming referendum. Younnes Makhioun, the party's head, said at a press conference on Thursday that "even though the constitution includes articles that the party does not agree upon," they will still call upon citizens to vote yes in the referendum. Doing so is in the interest that all Egyptians are yearning for, in terms of development and stability, Makhioun said.
A final draft of the constitution was submitted on Tuesday by Amr Moussa – head of the 50-member panel assigned to amend the 2012 charter predominantly drafted by Islamists – to Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour. A public referendum is to be called within a month.
The Salafist Nour Party – represented by the only Islamist member on this largely liberal panel – had repeatedly voiced its intent to retain the articles pertaining to religion, highly considered as "identity articles."
Thursday's stance, however, came despite the party's ultimate failure to push through with additional articles detailing the role and influence of Sharia (Islamic jurisdiction) in the constitution.
In the amendments, Article 219 – introduced in the 2012 constitution – which gave free reign to a wide range of interpretations of what Sharia entails, and thus also accommodated the stricter interpretations, was removed.
"It is impossible for each and every faction to achieve everything that it wants," Makhioun told reporters. "Everything has its positives and negatives, and we have to distinguish between what we wish for, and what is possible and available."
A clause was added in lieu of article 219, stating that the use of Sharia principals will be in accordance with those included in the Supreme Constitutional Court. The final version was agreed on by representatives from the Coptic Church, Al-Azhar, and the Salafist Nour Party.
Makhioun considered the substitution "sufficient" and a "disciplined addition" with regards to "Arab and Islamic identity."
Meanwhile, the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy said it rejected the "illegitimate" process in its entirety, but has not specified whether the stance will entail a boycott of the referendum or participation with a no vote.
Interim authorities have cracked down on Islamists, with Muslim Brotherhood supporters staging near-daily protests to denounce the interim government and the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. Attempts for reconciliation, both domestic and international, have reached a deadlock.
Speaking about the adopted political roadmap following Morsi's ouster, Makhioun said that the present situation is a "new reality which cannot be ignored or bypassed." He said that participating in the 50-member constitutional committee was the only option.
The political party has expressed its willingness to participate with all factions of society and to cure the "negative effects" of the past year without excluding, marginalizing, or isolating the Islamist current.
Makhioun said that this draft of the constitution appeals to the hopes of the Egyptian people in a very difficult time.
ABC News, by Sarah El Deeb
Popular Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef said Wednesday that he'll take the military and the government at their word that they were not behind the decision to take his weekly television program off the air, but he said it still doesn't make them look "very nice."
Youssef, often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart, spoke in his first televised appearance in Egypt since October. The private station CBC suspended his show after the season's first episode, which was highly critical of the military and the nationalist fervor gripping the nation after the popularly backed coup that ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The station said the satirist had violated its editorial policy and contractual obligations, and that he upset Egyptians sensibilities by attacking "symbols of the state."
Government and presidential officials at the time said the decision was a private issue between Youssef and the station.
Youssef, whose show called "The Program" mirrored Stewart's "The Daily Show," said he truly believes the military-backed government's denials that it did not order the suspension but added that "at the end of the day, the regime doesn't look very nice."
He denied he criticized the country's powerful and popular military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who removed Morsi from office, but added: "Suppose I did? At the end of the day he is a person."
"The message this would send is that you want to silence people," he said.
He said he hoped el-Sissi doesn't run for the presidency, and that the people's "love" for him doesn't "spoil him." El-Sissi has not ruled out he would run for president, and a large following is already urging him to nominate himself.
Youssef still criticized the CBC, saying it used contractual pretexts to justify its decision.
"This is a program that will upset some people, please others, and others won't care for it," he said. "But you don't have to be a custodian of the people."
In a second, unaired episode this season, Youssef said he asked authorities or the station to say clearly if they considered that the program harms Egypt. "I would have stayed home. But this would be a very bad sign for the country," he said.
Youssef regularly poked fun at Morsi and his Islamist allies. They filed a lawsuit against him and Youssef was briefly held before he posted bail.
"The fact of the matter is after 30 episodes (under Morsi), the program wasn't stopped," he told his interviewer Yosri Fouda on private broadcaster ONTV. "But it was (now) stopped after one episode." Several complaints were filed after Youssef's first episode, by private citizens and politicians accusing him of disrespecting the country's military rulers and offending public sentiments.
He said such "violent" reactions imply that the government and the military were "that fragile to be affected by the program."
Youssef also suggested that the suspension of the program could have been related to one of his producers' family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails. He said the day after recording the second episode, the father of his producer was detained on accusations that he supported the Brotherhood.
"I am confused," he said. "We keep saying that we won't go back to the old ways. But this is worrying."
Youssef took to task his once-loyal liberal fans for having the same low tolerance of criticism as his Islamist detractors under Morsi.
The production company of Youssef's show said after the suspension of the program, it decided to leave the private station. Youssef said there are a number of stations are already in talks with him to take his program, but he was waiting to settle the legal dispute with CBC.
Youssef said he hoped he would reach an agreement with an Egyptian channel, not a foreign station.
Youssef was one of four foreign journalists honored at the Press Freedom Awards last month by the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.