Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement in response to Egyptian President Mohamed Mori’s draft constitution:

“President Morsi has called a referendum for December 15 on a draft constitution that is explicitly lacking in many essential democratic guarantees. To note but a couple: The draft limits freedom of religion to the ‘three Abrahamic religions,’ Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, excluding many religious minorities in Egypt, for example, the Bahais. Freedom of speech is formally guaranteed, but is limited by prohibitions on insulting ‘prophets’ (presumably, only Muslim, Christian, and Jewish ones) and, oddly, on insulting ‘individual persons,’ giving rise to the question of whether media will be able to criticize any official or regime-favorite – or, indeed, anyone -- without fear of prosecution.

“The Egyptian people must ultimately decide whether they want the proposed draft to serve as their Constitution. From a democratic standpoint, however, there is a disturbingly wide gap between the draft constitution voted out of the constituent assembly last week and the democratic hopes engendered worldwide by the January 25 Revolution.”