Egypt opposition says Islamists trying to stifle dissent

Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:20pm EST
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By Tom Perry and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's opposition accused President Mohamed Mursi's Islamist allies of trying to muzzle dissent on Friday after prosecutors decided to investigate whether prominent government critics were guilty of sedition.

The probe, which comes a month after Mursi replaced the chief prosecutor, further sours the political climate as the leader and his opponents face off over a new constitution that became law on Wednesday.

Critics of the new charter say it uses vague language, fails to enshrine the rights of women and minorities and does little to champion the rights of Egyptians who rose up last year to overthrow army-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Supporters say it protects personal rights that were often trampled upon during the Mubarak era and a subsequent spell of army rule.

The constitution text won about 64 percent approval in a two-stage referendum but Mursi's opponents vowed to continue protests and rejected his calls for a national dialogue.

Prosecutors ordered the inquiry into three of the president's most prominent opponents on Thursday - former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy.

Moussa and Sabahy both challenged Mursi for the presidency in a June election which followed the 2011 uprising.

The prosecutor's office said the three had been accused of inciting supporters to rise up and overthrow Mursi, the country's first fairly elected leader.   Continued...

Badges showing an image of Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi and the words "Yes to constitution" are displayed at a street stall outside Al Azhar mosque in old Cairo December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh