The controversial articles which discuss the state’s “identity” in the constitution were finally drafted by the Constituent Assembly tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution, according to assembly member Mohamed Ghoneim.
The “identity articles” were the cause of wide debate within the assembly as mainly the Salafi Al-Nour Party strived to keep them untouched.
Nader Bakkar, Al-Nour Party’s Deputy Chairman for Media Affairs, denied that the controversy over the “identity articles” was “entirely resolved”, yet, was quick to add that “positive news” regarding the controversy will soon surface.
The mentioned identity articles include Article 2, which states that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation, and Article 219, which details what is meant by the principles of Islamic Sharia. Article 219 was removed from the amended version of the 2012 constitution drafted by the 10-member legal experts’ committee and referred to the Constituent Assembly for further amending.
On Monday, Ghoneim said that assembly members kept article 2 untouched and decided not to bring back Article 219, reported state-run Al-Ahram. He added that any definition of the principles of Islamic Sharia would abide by that which is presented by the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).
Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa confirmed Ghoneim’s words about abiding by the SCC’s definition in a press conference on Sunday.
Ghoneim reportedly stated that article 3 also passed in its original form. The article states that Christians and Jews can resort to their religious principles as a main source of legislation for their personal and religious affairs as well as for choosing their “spiritual” leaders.
Some assembly members had called for changing the article’s drafting to “non-Muslims” instead of “Christians and Jews”. Ghoneim said the amended constitution would nevertheless state: “All have the right to practice their religious rituals in a manner which doesn’t contrast with the general order.”
Ghoneim added that Article 4 was amended by removing the clause which states: the “institution of Al-Azhar should be resorted to in matters concerning Islamic Sharia in the constitution”, in order for it not to overlap with the role of the SCC.
Mohamed Abdel Salam, one of Al-Azhar’s representatives in the assembly, said Al-Azhar would only be used as a reference for Islam and religious science, reported Al-Ahram.
Meetings were held starting last Monday between Moussa, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawky Allam and Al-Nour Party’s Chairman Younes Makhioun to discuss the articles addressing “identity”. Assembly Spokesman Mohamed Salmawy commented on the meeting in a press conference last Monday saying that Al-Nour Party has a position on the “identity articles” which is different from that of most assembly members.
Al-Nour Party’s backup member in the assembly Salah Abdel Maaboud earlier said the party has submitted three suggestions for ending the controversy over the articles.
The Constituent Assembly began voting on drafted articles last week in closed sessions where no media presence was allowed. Salmawy announced on Saturday that the Assembly had preliminarily passed almost one quarter of constitutional articles; they had been sent to the legal experts’ committee to be reviewed before being finalised by the assembly. The Constituent Assembly is expected to be done with amending the constitution in December.