FJP calls for referendum boycott

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a statement Wednesday calling on Egyptians to boycott the constitutional referendum scheduled for January 14 and 15.

The constitution, the statement reads, has been drafted by “a minority who seek to give immunity to murderers and promote one of them to the seat of power” following a “bloody military coup that lays to waste the will and dignity of the Egyptian people.”

The statement makes reference to the 2012 Constitution, drafted and passed during the one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi, describing it as “legitimate” and approved by a two-thirds majority. Egyptians are, the FJP says, being pushed to give up their freedom and the freedom of future generations under difficult circumstances.

The statement does not mention Morsi or even make reference to the deposed president. It speaks instead of a military “coup” against legitimacy and the will of the people.

In the narrative propagated by state authorities, the revolution wavered from its course with Morsi’s election, and was rectified by the mass protests of June 30 and his removal.

The statement reflecting the view of the Brotherhood is a mirror image of this: The removal of Morsi represents a deviation of the course of the revolution, and they position their call for a boycott as a step on the journey towards realizing the goals of the January 25 revolution.

The Brotherhood decision to boycott the referendum reflects this view, in “continuing peaceful revolutionary escalation to restore the January 25 revolution, so that Egypt will be governed by the legitimacy of popular will and not military coups,” the statement reads.

Many doubt the mobilizing capacity of the Brotherhood, given the detention of thousands — according to Human Rights Watch — of the organization’s leading figures and members.

The other party to prominently come out in opposition to the constitution is the Strong Egypt Party, founded by Brotherhood defector and former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh.

Indications suggest that the Brotherhood’s former allies, the Salafi Nour Party — who have supported the roadmap drawn out by the interim government — will mobilize for a “yes” vote.

Two members of Tamarod, which spearheaded protests against Brotherhood rule, were members of the committee of 50 tasked with drafting the constitution. Last week, Tamarod announced its support for the draft on its official Facebook page, declaring that it “guarantees the rights of the peasant, the worker, the teacher, the fisherman and all segments of Egyptian society.”

Earlier in the week, former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa started a campaign urging Egyptians to vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum. He spoke at a public gathering on Monday in support of “a constitution that will amaze the world and frighten the hearts of the terrorists,” in reference to Brotherhood supporters.

Days before the referendum was announced, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim warned the Brotherhood against disrupting the referendum, promising that military and police forces would protect voters and safeguard polling stations. 

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