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Thousands Protest After Egyptian Panel Rushes Through Draft Constitution


A man, dressed up as an Egyptian pharaoh, holds a banner bearing a portrait of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi flanked by portraits of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on November 30.
Thousands of Egyptians have protested after an Islamist-dominated panel rushed through a draft constitution in a bid to defuse the crisis sparked by the Islamist president's newly expanded powers.

Protesters rallied in Cairo and several other cities on November 30.

The Constituent Assembly approved the draft in a vote early on November 30 despite a boycott by liberals and Christians.

Critics say the charter undermines some basic rights, while supporters argue it was rushed through to end instability.

Speaking on national TV on November 29, President Muhammad Morsi defended his decree, saying it was necessary "delicate surgery" needed to get Egypt through a transitional period and end instability he blamed on the lack of a constitution.

Morsi is expected to approve the draft this weekend, with a referendum expected in mid-December.

Morsi says a recent controversial decree that gave him sweeping powers will expire once a constitution is approved.

At least two people have been killed and dozens injured in violence since Morsi issued his decree last week.

Egypt's opposition, meanwhile, is vowing to continue its protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa