Salafists Threaten to Withdraw From Constituent Assembly

Article Summary
The Salafist Al-Nour party in Egypt has threatened to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly tasked with writing the Egyptian constitution because of proposed language calling Egypt a "civil state" and restricting the role of Sharia law. The Freedom and Justice Party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood has accepted these proposals.

The Salafist Al-Nour party has threatened to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly if Egypt is declared a civil state, or if the term “principles” is added to the constitutional article providing for Sharia law. On the other hand, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm in Egypt, agreed that Egypt should be a civil state, and that the Sharia should act primarily as a point of reference when ushering in new legislation.

Youssra Hamad, the spokesperson for Al-Nour Party, stated that a public-opinion poll would call for the rejection of the constitution if Egypt were declared a civil state, in which religious doctrine is not at the heart of the constitution. In a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Hamad stressed that his party would refuse to write “civil state” into the constitution without also mentioning the following clause, “Egypt as a non-military state.” He also accused parties that support the establishment of a “civil state" of using term to challenge the implementation of Sharia law.

Hamad said that his party had stood its ground by refusing to add the term “principles” to the article stipulating that Sharia law must be consulted for new legislation, adding that if the term “principles” were to be added to the clause, the teachings of the Prophet and Sharia law would no longer be used as a reference.

Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a member of the FJP Higher Committee and member of the Constituent Assembly, confirmed that his party had no reservations about adding the term “civil state” to the constitution. He also said that all parties had agreed that the Al-Azhar document would be used as the principal constitutional reference.

According to Abdel Rahman, in their writing, Salafists often recognize Egypt as a civil state. The FJP is more flexible than Al-Nour Party in that it is willing to accept whatever the various national forces agree upon, said Abdel Rahman. The FJP intends to discuss the use of the civil-state term with Al-Nour Party and the Coptic church.

Wahid Abdel Majid, the spokesperson for the Constituent Assembly, mentioned that the Assembly had finished appointing members to its special committees, and that it had established a primary work schedule. 

Found in: sharia law, sharia, muslim brotherhood, muslim, islamists, freedom and justice party, egyptian constitution, constituent assembly, al-nour

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