Dueling Protests on Eve of Egypt's Referendum Vote

Ahmed Ramadan/AP Photo

CAIRO, Egypt - Both sides in Egypt's political battle hit the streets today ahead of a vote that will help decide the future of the largest country in the Arab world.

Supporters of President Mohammad Morsi are rallying outside a mosque, urging Egyptians to vote for a constitution that they say will bring stability to a country in political and economic crisis.

But opponents of the constitution are converging on the presidential palace from four different locations, arguing the charter opens the door to conservative Islam and threatens to restrict freedom of speech.

Both sides believe the future of the country is at stake, and both sides are politicking in their own way. The opposition has TV and newspaper ads and pickup trucks with loudspeakers touring the countryside, arguing the constitution will divide Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has posters across the country delivering a simpler message: voting yes is voting to protect sharia laws.

The vote has divided the country - what one U.S. official calls Red State Blue State Egypt - with Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and their religious allies on one side, and liberal, secular, and Christian Egyptians on the other.

The majority of the vote takes place Saturday with preliminary results expected by Saturday night. Other parts of the country will vote on Dec. 22.

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