By Ali Omar
Religious leaders of all affiliations have called on Egyptians to participate in the upcoming national referendum on the recently drafted constitution. The Salafi Al-Nour Party, along with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Pope Tawadros II, all called on their constituents to take part in the referendum, slated to take place 14 and 15 January.
The State Information Service released a statement on 24 December, which said Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb believes the “referendum on the constitution will take Egypt to a new stage of building, work, security and stability,” adding that the referendum “serves the interests of the homeland and the goals of the Islamic law”.
Al-Tayeb made this announcement at a press conference aimed at explaining the constitution to Egyptian citizens. He was joined by a delegation of the ultraconservative group Salafi Da’wa , who also back the referendum.
Spokesman of the Salafi Al-Nour Party, Nader Bakkar, who took part in the 2012 drafting of the constitution, said his party is also in support of the upcoming vote. This move came as a surprise to many, since the Salafi party was commonly seen as a crucial ally to the once-powerful Muslim Brotherhood.
Pope Tawadros II has also voiced his support of the constitution on Christmas Eve in a joint meeting with other Christian officials. Pope Tawadros II called participation a “duty” and a “must”. He has also called for presidential elections to be held before parliamentary elections.
An estimated 54 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the upcoming referendum. Amr Moussa, head of the constitutional drafting committee, predicted that the constitution would pass with 75% of the vote.