In the first vote since a popular revolt toppled former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, 98.1 percent of voters supported the newly formed Egyptian constitution in a two-day referendum.The turnout was lower than some officials had predicted, with only 38.6 percent of the 53 million eligible voters taking part. Such low numbers -— although actually higher than all other referendums held since the removal of Mubarak -— may reflect a general fear that the Islamists would make good on their threat to ruin the election process with acts of terror. Others may have absented themselves out of sheer disappointment in the failure of every election and referendum since the beginning of Hosni Mubarak's rule to improve their daily lives. They may have just expected more of the same, and so couldn't be bothered to participate. Moreover, the referendum was held during student exam week and the long lines may have persuaded some students to study rather than cast their votes.The poll results show that approximately 20 million Egyptians approved the current constitution as opposed to approximately 10 million who supported the Islamist constitution offered by the Muslim Brotherhood during the Morsi regime. 98.1% approved the current constitution compared to 66% who supported the Muslim Brotherhood constitution. In other words, less than 2% disapprove of the new constitution, while more than 30% disapproved of the Sharia-inspired Muslim Brotherhood constitution. These results are compatible with recent election results within Egyptian professional associations and unions — both of which have shown a very similar pattern of devastating defeat of the Islamists. This widespread voter attitude is a clear indication that a significant and consistent shift against the Muslim Brotherhood has occurred within Egyptian society. www.tawfikhamid.comThe Muslim Brotherhood may insist that everyone who abstained from voting was in fact against the constitution. This is simply not supported by the evidence. Were it true that a majority of Egyptians did NOT in fact support the new constitution, they would have most certainly asserted their will at the polls, and would have just as certainly won easily in such a transparent referendum. Or perhaps they’re just not used to operating in the light. Given the national referendum results, and the similar results in recent professional association elections (which used to be dominated by the Islamists, but which were roundly against them this time around), it seems pretty clear that there is a new reality on the Egyptian street.The former (or the Muslim Brotherhood) constitution used phrases that opened the gate to slavery and to the creation of a theocratic state. Additionally, the Islamists who created it refused to use phrases to prevent female genital mutilation FGM. The new Egyptian constitution is clearly against such things. Furthermore, despite the use of a disturbing phrase that made it mandatory for the country to allow the worshipers of "Heavenly Religions" i.e. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism to build their temples - which practically excludes the followers of Bahai and other faiths from worshiping in public - the phrase (unlike Morsi's constitution) does not prevent followers of other faiths from building their temples. This, unlike the Muslim Brotherhood constitution, can open the gate for followers of other faiths to demand their equality as citizens and to build their temples. Overall, the new constitution is a step forward for Egypt, despite the unfortunate inclusion of the “elastic” phrase from the earlier constitution that laws are to be derived from Sharia "principles." The good news is that the strict prohibitions against discrimination based on religion, race, color or gender are crystal clear. Future constitutional interpretation will be able to point to the absolute principle of equality under the law when considering questions that involve the more fluid notion of Sharia “principles.” Retaining the right to try civilians in military courts, is necessary at this stage to deter Islamist terrorists from attacking Egyptian military and police forces. Providing terrorists with civilian rights and protections can only destabilize the country. In brief, the latest referendum results in favor of the new Egyptian constitution are completely in line with the clearly observable shift in Egyptian society against the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam. It is a giant step forward in the history of Egypt.The writer is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri, who later became the second in command of al-Qaida. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.