Egypt's Constitution Headed for Showdown with Islamists

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President Barack Obama said his administration has been putting significant pressure on the Egyptian government to protect religious minorities.

But U.S. Coptic Christian leader dismissed the president's claim as "just words," saying the administration appears to be moving closer to Egypt's Islamist-dominated government.

The comments come as the fate of the Egyptian constitution is heading to the country's Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, an Egyptian court asked Egypt's highest tribunal to rule on whether to disband a panel tasked with writing a new constitution for the country after the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak last year.

Critics claim the body is dominated by Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi. Liberals fear that Islamic law will dominate.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is really taking over Egypt now in a dramatic fashion," CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell said.

"It's not these young kids that the president talked about that are sort of aspiring for democracy," he explained. "They're there, but what's happened, taking this vacuum, is the Muslim Brotherhood that threatens Israel, threatens the entire Middle East."

Islamists and liberals have haggled over proposed articles relating to women rights, freedom of worship, presidential powers, immunity for the military from civilian oversight, and undercutting the powers of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Instead of ruling on a petition submitted by liberals challenging the legitimacy of the panel, Judge Nazih Tangho of the High Administrative Court on Tuesday sent the case to Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court.

The decision sets up a new showdown between the Supreme Constitutional Court, packed with secularist judges, and Egypt's ruling and powerful Brotherhood.

The same court dissolved the Brotherhood-led parliament, ruled the election law unconstitutional, and turned down Morsi's attempt to restore it upon his election in June.

"We are going to witness a new phase of confrontation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Constitutional Court," said Ziad Abdel Tawab, a legal expert with Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. "The process will linger, for sure."

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