The battle over Egypt's Islamic rule and the new constitution recently took an unexpected turn when
opposition figure and Noble Prize laureate
Mohamed ElBaradei criticized the Constituent Assembly claiming that one of its members was a Holocaust denier.
The unusual comment stirred uproar in Egypt
in the backdrop of widespread protests against President Mohammed Morsi's
decree grating him near-absolute power.
Earlier this month, nearly all of the assembly's Christian and Liberals members resigned in protest. Asked to explain this move ElBaradei told Der Spiegel, "We all fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will draft an Islamist-leaning constitution that hurts the rights of women and religious minorities."
Those who remained, he said, "include one who wants to ban music...another who denies the Holocaust and another who openly condemns democracy."
Photomontage on Islamic website: ElBaradei with Israel's symbol in background
The statement set off a firestorm of criticism. According to Egyptian news reports, ElBaradei is under attack both in the media and on social network. Journalist Muhammad Jamal al-Din explained, "In ElBaradei's interview with the Americans he told them we were against democracy.
Speaking with the French he said we were against art and culture and an interview with the Germans he said that we deny the Holocaust.
Had he spoken to the Indians he would have told them we're going to slaughter cows."
Egyptian State Minister in charge of the parliament Muhammad Mahsub challenged ElBaradei to "tell all Egyptians if he said those words or not, because Egypt has laws regarding the Holocaust. We will not allow ElBaradei to force us to believe or not believe in the Holocaust."
An Egyptian newswoman said, "One of the most remarkable things is that ElBaradei has no problem denying the existence of Allah while considering Holocaust denial a serious problem."