Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, member of both the Constituent Assembly which is responsible for drafting Egypt’s new constitution and the Salafist Nour Party, revealed on Tuesday that the issue of Article 2, the constitutional article related to sharia, will be resolved by taking votes within the general committee of the assembly drafting Egypt’s constitution.
Article 2 of Egypt’s 1971 constitution states that “the principles of sharia [Islamic law]” should constitute the “principal source” of legislation in Egypt.
During the process of drafting Egypt’s post-revolution constitution, this article provoked conflicts within the various formations of the Constituent Assembly, as Salafists and other Islamist voices demanded the removal of the word “principles”, to make sharia the primary source of Egyptian law.
Meanwhile, liberal and civil parties demanded the article be kept unchanged to maintain the civil nature of the Egyptian state.
According to Abdel-Maqsoud, the vote on the controversial article will be based on three options: firstly, that the article stays as it was in Egypt’s constitution of 1971; secondly, the removal of the phrase “principles”, to make Islamic law the main source of legislation; and thirdly, for the 1971 version of the article to stay as it is with the addition of the university of Al-Azhar as a source of legislation.
“An article concerning believers from other religions was inserted in the Freedom and Rights chapter within the constitution,” said Abdel-Maqsoud, who added that an article concerned with Al-Azhar being a reference will be present in the chapter of basic principles.
Furthermore, Bassem Rizqa, another member of both the Nour Party and the Constituent Assembly stated that suggestions were made on handing the responsibility of interpreting the word ” principles” in Article 2 to Al-Azhar, in order to avoid disputes.
“Another suggestion is eliminating the word principles, if what the people want is to be ruled by Islamic law,” said Rizqa.
Rizqa added that no entity, whether religious, judiciary or military, has the authority to constrain the Constituent Assembly to function in a certain way or to impose its vision on the new constitution.
“The only opinion is that of the people,” he said.