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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Egypt’s Constituent Assembly will vote on the issue of Sharia law in Egypt’s Constitution

Egypt's Constituent Assembly

Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, one of the members of Egypt’s Constituent Assembly tasked with the drafting of Egypt’s new Constitution and the member of Salafist Al-Nour Party said on Tuesday that the controversial issue of Sharia (Islamic) law in Egypt’s future Constitution will be finally resolved in the Assembly through the voting.

Article 2 of Egypt’s Constitution was one of the cornerstones of the numerous disputes and argues within the Constituent Assembly during the whole period of its working. Liberal forces demand to secure and guarantee the civil nature of Egyptian state, while the ultra-conservative Salafists insist there should be changes for more strict Islamic laws in the Constitution.

Article 2 of Egypt’s Constitution states: “Principles of Sharia law are the main source of legislation in Egyptian state”.

During the time of working on drafting the new Constitution this article provoked a lot of disputes within the general committee and the Constituent Assembly as well. Thus, Salafists and other Islamist forces representatives demanded to change the wording of this article and to remove the word “principles”, so the Sharia law only may become the main source of legislation in Egypt, not just its principles.

The civil and liberal parties demanded the article to stay unchanged to preserve the civil nature of Egyptian state and to not give a chance to turn it into religious one.

This question seemed to be far from being resolved, so the decision was taken to vote in the Assembly regarding the issue of Islamic law in the future Constitution, according to Abdel-Maqsoud. This controversial article will be based on three options while voting:

1. The Article 2 stays unchanged, as it was in Egypt’s 1971 Constitution, and declares that “principles of Sharia law are the main source of legislation in Egypt”. This is the stance and demand of liberals and secularists.

2. The word “principles” will be removed from the Article 2 and it will state that “Sharia law is the principle source of legislation”. This is the demand of Salafists and Islamists.

3. The wording of the Article 2 will stay unchanged in the part regarding the principles of Sharia law, but there will be added that the University of Al-Azhar will be the source of legislation in the state. This is also the proposal of Islamist forces.

Concerning the issue of the representatives of other religions Abdel-Maqsoud stated that there will be an article inserted within the Chapter of Freedoms and Rights of the Constitution. He also said that the article concerned with Al-Azhar as a reference to all the questions regarding Sharia law will be presented in the Chapter of Basic Principles.

Thereby the disputes over the issue of Sharia law and the principles of legislation in the Article 2 of Egypt’s ner Constitution are expected to be resolved with the help of voting within the Constituent Assembly in the nearest future.