Constituent Assembly to reconvene over Shari’a articles

Basil El-Dabh
2 Min Read

Egypt’s Constituent Assembly is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to continue work towards drafting Egypt’s new constitution before a looming deadline in August.

The 100-member assembly chosen by the now-dissolved parliament will continue to work in the face of appeals challenging its constitutionality scheduled at the Administrative Judiciary court on July 30.

Debates have intensified over Article 2 of the constitution, which currently states, “Islam is the religion of the state and the Arabic language is its official language, and principles of Islamic law (Shari’a) are the main source of legislation.”

While the Muslim Brotherhood has officially supported the idea of an unchanged Article 2, Salafists in the Assembly have been pushing for the removal of the word “principles,” which would make Islamic Law the principle source of legislation.

They have since threatened to call on its supporters to vote down the new constitution in a popular referendum unless “principles” is struck from the article or a clause is added giving Al-Azhar sole authority to interpret these “principles” over the courts.

Neighbour Tunisia and it’s moderate Islamist leading Ennahda Party removed the mentioning of Shari’a completely from the constitution when secularist factions protested it, much to the chagrin of the Tunisian Salafist movement.

Ennahda Party leader Rashid Ghannouchi maintained that his party’s program could be carried out without Shari’a.

Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution was adopted in 1971 and has remained unchanged since. Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayyeb of Al-Azhar has advocated leaving the article alone.

The current Constitutional Assembly stands in its second incarnation after the first assembly was dissolved.

Complaints regarding fair representation within the constitutional drafting committee persist, but the future of the committee currently lies with the Egyptian judiciary.

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