Egypt Salafists Propose Constitutional Ban of Prophet Insults

Article Summary
Al-Azhar representatives to the Constituent Assembly  proposed a ban that prevents affronts to “God, the prophets, the mothers of the believers, and the Righteous Caliphs,” write Hamdi Dabash, Osama al-Mahdi, Khaled Kamel. Salafists welcomed the ban, arguing that it will curb the Shiite tide by outlawing some of their religious practices. 

On July 18, Al-Azhar representatives in the Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with drafting the constitution, proposed to add a new constitutional article that prohibits affronts to God, the prophets, the mothers of the believers and the Righteous Caliphs. The Salafist movement said that the article will stem the Shiite tide in Egypt and enable laws that will prevent Shiites from practicing their faith.

Dr. Yunus Makhyoun, a member of the Higher Committee for the Salafist al-Nour Party, said that the article proposed by Al-Azhar will stem the Shiite tide and will block attempts to build Hussainias [Shiite places of worship] in Egypt. He said that the Shiite presence has become a threat that requires a constitutional article to confront it. Makhyoun told Al-Masry al-Youm that the constitutional article would prevent the production and broadcast of TV shows that deal with the prophets' lives, the Righteous Caliphs and the mothers of the believers.

Makhyoun said that all political forces and church representatives have agreed to Al-Azhar’s proposal, which would punish any writer who disrespects any of the prophets.

In contrast, the leading Shiite cleric Mahmoud Hamid said that Shiites do not object to Al-Azhar’s proposal and that the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Ali Khamenei, issued a religious edict prohibiting insults against the Sahaba [the Prophet Muhammad’s companions]. He added that there are concerns that the constitutional proposal will be used as a weapon against the Shiites, to impose restrictions on them by the Salafists, or to accuse any Shiite of insulting the Sahaba or Aisha [one of Prophet Muhammad’s wives]. He called on Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam to impose legal controls on the proposed article. He added that he considers the article as a way to court the Salafists, especially in light of the instability in the country. Hamid said that Shiite Hussainias are places where Shiite events are held and are not used to insult anyone, such as the Sahaba or the mothers of the believers. Hamid added that Hussainias are of course not mosques, as some Salafists are trying to tell the general Muslim population.

With regard to the “Shiite tide,” Hamid said that the Shiites are Muslims and that the Salafists should have instead added articles to prevent proselytizing in Egypt, Africa and Islamic countries, where there are attempts to sow strife and division among the Muslim community.

Al-Azhar’s delegate Sheikh abd al-Tawab abd al-Hakim Qutb welcomed the constitutional article proposed by Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb. The proposed article states that God, the prophets, the mothers of the believers and the Righteous Caliphs should not be insulted or depicted in television dramas because that would be an explicit violation of Islam's provisions.

Sheikh Abdel Tawab told Al-Masry al-Youm that it is unacceptable for some ungodly actor or actress, who drinks or has a negative reputation, to play the character of Omar ibn al-Khattab or one of the mothers of the believers. He said, “We will confront the Shiite tide — which harms God, his messenger and the noble Sahaba — no matter the sacrifices. Their treatment by the Jews is better than by the Shiites.”

Found in: salafists, islamists, egyptian constitution, constituent assembly, al-nour

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