Fireworks Celebrate Independence In Both Egypt And U.S.

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Judging by pictures in the newspapers this week, you might think what happened in Egypt was oddly like our Fourth of July celebrations. Guest host Linda Wertheimer reflects on the importance of founding documents in light of the July 4th holiday and a coup that threw out Egypt's new constitution.


Judging by pictures in the newspapers this week, you might think what happened in Egypt was oddly like our Fourth of July celebrations. In the United States, we celebrate our founding documents - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the early Amendments, the Bill of Rights. We celebrate with crowds, speeches and fireworks.

In Egypt, when the first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was removed from office and the constitution annulled, there were also crowds and fireworks. Of course, the new constitution, drafted by Islamists, with strong religious content, alarmed many Egyptians. Still, the idea of annulling a constitution is almost as shocking to Americans as the military removing a president. President Obama pointed out that the Egyptian constitution provided for replacing a president with an election. But the crowds in Cairo were impatient and the Army decided to move. Now, there are uncertain, dangerous times ahead for Egypt as it attempts to stabilize its government and stop the economic free fall.

We have had frightening and uncertain periods in our country where we faced what we call a constitutional crisis. The Civil War resolved the worst of these by force, but the constitution itself settled another when President Richard Nixon resigned, rather than face impeachment and removal as provided in that document. Some among us believe the Constitution should be sacred, unchanged. Most Americans have at one time or another supported a change. Our Constitution has been both firm and flexible and has served us well. We hope Egypt's next draft works better for them.


WERTHEIMER: You're listening to NPR News.

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