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Islamists criticise constituent assembly - Daily News Egypt

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Islamists criticise constituent assembly

The Salafist Call’s deputy leader and Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya accuse assembly of trying to change Egypt’s “Islamist identity”

Yasser Borhami, deputy leader of the Salafist  (Photo from Yasser Borhami Facebook Page)
Yasser Borhami, deputy leader of the Salafist
(Photo from Yasser Borhami Facebook Page)

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya joined other Islamist political movements in condemning the actions of the Constituent Assembly tasked with amending the 2012 constitution.

In a statement released on Sunday, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, alongside its political wing, the Building and Development Party, accused the assembly of antagonising religious and moral values.

The movement objected to removing Article 10 of the 2012 constitution, which states that the state and society should be keen on preserving the Egyptian family’s “authentic characteristic.”

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya also criticised amendments made to Article 3, which states that the principles of religions of non-Muslims is the main source of legislation regarding their personal and religious affairs. The original article gave that right specifically to Christians and Jews, not non-Muslims in general.

“This amendment allows those who belong to different religions to practice incest and homosexual marriage,” the statement read. “It also allows atheists to have their own laws, which govern their personal affairs.”

Yasser Borhami, deputy leader of the Salafist Call, also criticised the amendments to Article 3. Borhami condemns the Constituent Assembly’s activities; he said, in an op-ed published on the Salafi website, Salaf Voice, that this amendment would allow the proliferation of “non-Abrahamic religions,” such as Baha’i, Buddhism and Satan worshipping. According to Islam, the three Abrahamic  religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Borhami claimed that “delusions,” such as Satan worshipping are not as farfetched “as some allege,” claiming that Satan worshipping parties were held during the reign of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and during the early days of the 25 January Revolution.

The Salafi leader also criticised the 10-member legal experts committee’s recommendation to cancel Article 219 from the constitution. The committee submitted its recommendations to the Constituent Assembly, which will hold societal talks on the amended articles.

Borhami pointed out that Article 219 was included in the constitutional declaration issued by interim President Adly Mansour a week after he came into power. “How could they claim they want to cancel it due to being unconstitutional? Did that fact escape Mansour, who’s a state chancellor, when he added it to the declaration?” Borhami asked.

Article 219 details the principles of Islamic Sharia, which, according to Article 2, are the main source of legislation.

Borhami, in reference to suggestions of describing the state as “civilian” in the constitution, said that the suggestion was studied extensively before being turned down by the majority of the members of the 2012 Constituent Assembly, including Al-Azhar representatives.

The Salafi leader described the majority of the 2013 Constituent Assembly’s members as ranging from “liberals to extremist liberals, and leftists to extremist leftists who hold enmity against all that is Islamist.”

Borhami said that during the 3 July meeting between General Commander of the Armed Forces Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and political and religious figures, which was followed by the announcement of the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, it was agreed that the roadmap would not touch upon any constitutional articles that preserve Egypt’s Islamic “identity.” He added that the legal experts committee’s amendments to the 2012 constitution were “shocking,” since they involved amendments to articles 2, 4, 81 and 219, all of which are considered “identity articles.”

“The Constituent Assembly’s activities suggest the assembly is drafting a new constitution and not just looking into the amendments submitted by the legal experts’ committee,” Borhami said.

Borhami said that the 2012 constitution was drafted by a Constituent Assembly, which was indirectly elected by the people. The 2012 assembly was elected by the 2012 House of Representatives. The 2013 assembly was appointed by Mansour.

Borhami said all those who took to the streets on 30 June were calling for Morsi’s ouster and not for the suspension of the 2012 constitution.

Mohamed Hassaan, spokesman of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, described the 2012 constitution as the only existing “canonical” constitution. He added that the constitution was drafted amid the agreement of almost 90% of assembly members, and approved by the majority of Egyptians.

“Any constitution should respect the majority without violating minorities’ rights,” Hassaan said. “The amendments drafted by the 2013 Constituent Assembly are creating a constitution which only preserves minorities’ rights while disregarding the rights of an Islamic majority.”

Borhami said that even though Al-Nour Party, which is the Salafist Call’s political wing, did not approve of amending the 2012 constitution, it succumbed by accepting Al-Sisi’s political roadmap, which included amending the constitution, to put Egypt’s best interests before the party’s.

Nevertheless, he warned that the Egyptian people, whom he described as “generally religious,” will soon know that what is happening in the country is a “war against Islam” and not just a “war against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Mohamed Salmawy, spokesman of the 2013 Constituent Assembly, denied that the assembly is attempting to draft an anti-IslamiC constitution. Salmawy told private-owned satellite channel Tahrir that the constitution will preserve the freedom of practicing different religious rituals.

Salmawy stated that the constituent assembly is not looking into the 2012 constitution; it is looking into amendments to the constitution drafted by the legal experts’ committee. He added that, consequently, the assembly had no hand in cancelling article 219, as it was not among the amended version of the constitution submitted to it by the legal experts committee.

The assembly spokesman said that it is not the constitution’s job to recognise religions or crack-down on them, but to issue general principles that govern rights.

Al-Nour party representative in the Constituent Assembly, Bassam Al Zarqa, was replaced with Mohamed Ibrahim Mansour on Thursday. Al-Zarqa withdrew from a session last Monday in protest over a disagreement on the topic of Sharia in the constitution.

In 2012, Borhami said, in a leaked video of a speech he had given at an academic symposium, that that the 2012 constitution “includes full [religious] restrictions which never existed in earlier Egyptian constitutions.”

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