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Egypt Needs To Bridge Divisions

An Egyptian woman cuts her hair during a demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 25, 2012. Women cut their hair to protest against the Islamist-oriented constitution on Tuesday.

Many Egyptians have expressed legitimate concerns that the new constitution does not fully protect their rights.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi signed a decree putting into effect Egypt's newly approved constitution. The proposed document was passed with 64 percent of the vote, and approximately 33 percent turnout.

Egypt Needs To Bridge Divisions
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Many Egyptians have expressed legitimate concerns that the new constitution does not fully protect their rights, including the freedoms of expression and religion, and does not clearly enough protect women’s rights.

The United States has consistently supported the principle that democracy requires much more than simple majority rule. It requires protecting the rights and building the institutions that make democracy meaningful and durable.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department called on President Morsi, as the democratically elected leader of Egypt, to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process. The U.S. has called for genuine consultation and compromise across Egypt’s political divides. The United States hopes those Egyptians disappointed by the result will seek more and deeper engagement. Those who welcome the result should engage in good faith, and all sides need to re-commit themselves to condemn and prevent violence.

Only Egyptians can decide their country’s future. The United States remains committed to helping them realize the aspirations that drove their revolution and complete a successful democratic transition. Egypt needs a strong, inclusive government to meet its many challenges. Its future depends not on the ability of one side to prevail over the other, but on the commitment of all to engage in an inclusive process to negotiate their differences ‒ on the constitution and on the laws implementing it ‒ and to find a more united path forward.