Friday, December 14, 2012

How Islamist is Egypt's would-be constitution?

Ahram Online takes a closer look at the role of Islamic Sharia law in Egypt's draft constitution and its possible implications

Ahram Online, Friday 14 Dec 2012

".....Al-Azhar's new constitutional role in legislation
Although Article 2 of the 1971 constitution, which says the principles of Sharia are the primary source of legislation, remained intact in the draft constitution, two new articles have been added to emphasise the role of Sharia in legislation.
Article 219 (defines the aspects of Sharia on which laws will be based) and Article 4 (states the supreme scholars committee of Al-Azhar, the country's highest Islamic institution, should be consulted on all matters relating to Sharia) gives a religious institution the right to meddle in the law-making process, according to legal expert Hisham Nasr......

Salafist influence: Obstacle to general freedoms?
Salafists, ultra-conservative allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, have also attempted to further stamp the mark of Islamists on the constitution.

Preacher Yasser El-Borhami, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly, says the Salafists successfully managed to modify three articles.

"There was an article in [the 1971] constitution stating no punishment without a legal text. But we objected to this article and were able to change it to ‘no punishment without a legal or constitutional text’ because if it had remained in the original format, consensual adultery, homosexuality, and usury would not be punished, as they are currently not prohibited by law," he said during a seminar in late November.
He also gave credit to Salafists for altering Article 76, which was referred to in a Brotherhood statement promoting the draft constitution in October.
"For the aim of protecting society, the draft states that no punishment will be carried out unless there is a crime, after verifying all proof of the crime. This will prepare society to understand and accept Sharia and lead to the gradual implementation of Sharia," the statement said.

Ezzat says this article opens the door for unjust punishments: "According to the new format of Article 76, a citizen can be put on trial without a specific law or stating the penalty for crime he is accused of, as now you can directly refer to Sharia for the penalty."......"

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