New constitutions are usually greeted with great fanfare. They're assumed to carry both the promise of a fresh start and signal that a chaotic transition has come to an end.
But Egypt's new constitution is something else again. Signed into law on Dec. 26 by President Mohamed Morsi, the new charter has become a symbol of a sharply divided nation. Mr. Morsi's opponents charge the passage of the constitution is not the result of a national consensus, but evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood that propelled Morsi to power intends to push its agenda over the heads of secular-leaning and liberal political opponents.
While Morsi extended an olive branch to opponents in a nationally televised speech on Dec. 26, the country is at its most sharply polarized point since longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011. Egypt is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in about two months, and the runup to that election is more likely to exacerbate Egypt's open political wounds rather than heal them.