(Washington Times) — The State Department downplayed concerns Monday that Islamists are dominating the drafting of Egypt’s new constitution, despite criticism and outrage voiced by secular and Christian politicians in Cairo.
“We’re not going to prejudge, obviously, the work of this panel,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, referring the 100-person body elected over the weekend by a post-revolution parliament to write the constitution.
Two liberal Egyptian politicians quit the panel Monday, citing concerns that it is being dominated by Islamists and lacks sufficient representation for women and Christians.
About 70 percent of the panel comprises independent Islamists or members of Islamist parties including the Muslim Brootherhood.
Ms. Nuland told reporters in Washington that the constitutional panel represents “one of the next steps in the Egyptian transition process,” and noted that the new constitution will still “have to be put to referendum before the Egyptian people.”
Asked whether U.S. officials are concerned the panel is dominated by Islamists, Ms. Nuland said: “We’re not going to judge these groups by their names [or] their history. We’re going to judge them by what they do, we’re going to judge them by the output.”