Dispute Deepens Over Role Of Shariah in Egypt’s Constitution

A rift between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Shura Council is growing deeper as the draft constitution nears completion. One Salafist warned “there will be seas of blood everywhere in the coming period if Islamic Shariah law is not applied.” Assembly members said they would not bow to external pressure.

al-monitor An Islamist Egyptian protester shouts holding a Quran during a protest of hundreds of Salafists gather for the enforcement of Islamic sharia law at Tahrir Square in Cairo November 9, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany.

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shariah law, shariah

Nov 12, 2012

The Salafist Shura Council — which includes Mohamed Hassan, Mohamed Hussein Yaacoub and Abu Ishaq al-Heweny — submitted a request to the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting the constitution to omit the term “principles” from Article 2 of the constitution, making “Islamic Shariah law” the main source of legislation [as opposed to “the principles of Islamic Shariah”]. The request also called for excluding Article 2 from the referendum on the draft constitution, and described it as an article that is above the constitution and not subject to a referendum.

Saeed Abdel Azim, a member of the council, said that it is only natural that Islamic Shariah law governs the country, and therefore there is no logic in holding a referendum on the article.

The Salafist leader Mahmoud Amer criticized the Muslim Brotherhood’s position regarding Article 2  and attacked  the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party's legal advisor Ahmed Abu Baraka, who said: “The term 'principles' is sufficient to apply the law of God, and Shariah law has been implemented years ago.”

Amer told Al-Masry Al-Youm that “there will be seas of blood everywhere in the coming period if Islamic Shariah law is not applied,” and noted that Takfiri movements deployed in many places will go out and use their weapons if a referendum is held on a constitution that violates the law of God, saying “For this reason, I call on Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi to ensure the victory of Shariah and save the country from the coming bloody battles.”

Yunus Makhyoun, a member of the Constituent Assembly from the Salafist al-Nour Party, said that his party seeks a consensual constitution that is acceptable to all social groups, adding that this is why the term “principles” was added and interpreted.

Makhyoun told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Islamists do not have the right to demand the adoption of an Islamic constitution, because people from all sects participated in the revolution, not just Islamists. He also added that for this reason the constitution must be consensual.

Hussam Abubaker, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, said that the Brotherhood agreed to preserve the term “principles” in the draft provided that an interpretation is given, and added that he believes the article is sufficient to allow for the implementation of Islamic Shariah law.

Mohammed Wahdan, a member of the Guidance Bureau, said that Salafists have representatives in the assembly and they are able to express their points of view. He also urged them to respect the work of the assembly to finalize the constitution and complete the transitional process.

Wahdan added that public pressure will not affect the assembly, which is seeking to produce a consensual constitution that establishes Egypt as a modern, constitutional and democratic state through dialogue and discussion, whether within the assembly or through a community dialogue to amend or add an article that might contribute to the country’s progress.

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