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Salafist Nour Party: Will vote 'yes' in the Egyptian constitution referendum

Salafist Nour Party head Younis Makhioun says his party will agree to the amendments made to the Egyptian constitution in the upcoming referendum 'even though the constitution includes articles that the party does not agree upon

Ahram Online , Thursday 5 Dec 2013
Al-Nour Salafist party spokesman Nader Bakar
Al-Nour Salafist party spokesman Nader Bakar (Photo: AL-Ahram)
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Salafist Nour Party said they will agree to the amendments made to the Egyptian constitution in the upcoming referendum.

Younnes Makhioun, the party's head, said at a press conference on Thursday that "even though the constitution includes articles that the party does not agree upon," they will still call upon citizens to vote yes in the referendum. Doing so is in the interest that all Egyptians are yearning for, in terms of development and stability, Makhioun said.

 A final draft of the constitution was submitted on Tuesday by Amr Moussa – head of the 50-member panel assigned to amend the 2012 charter predominantly drafted by Islamists – to Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour. A public referendum is to be called within a month.

The Salafist Nour Party – represented by the only Islamist member on this largely liberal panel – had repeatedly voiced its intent to retain the articles pertaining to religion, highly considered as "identity articles."

Thursday's stance, however, came despite the party's ultimate failure to push through with additional articles detailing the role and influence of Sharia (Islamic jurisdiction) in the constitution.

In the amendments, Article 219 – introduced in the 2012 constitution – which gave free reign to a wide range of interpretations of what Sharia entails, and thus also accommodated the stricter interpretations, was removed.

"It is impossible for each and every faction to achieve everything that it wants," Makhioun told reporters. "Everything has its positives and negatives, and we have to distinguish between what we wish for, and what is possible and available."

A clause was added in lieu of article 219, stating that the use of Sharia principals will be in accordance with those included in the Supreme Constitutional Court. The final version was agreed on by representatives from the Coptic Church, Al-Azhar, and the Salafist Nour Party.

Makhioun considered the substitution "sufficient" and a "disciplined addition" with regards to "Arab and Islamic identity."

Meanwhile, the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy said it rejected the "illegitimate" process in its entirety, but has not specified whether the stance will entail a boycott of the referendum or participation with a no vote.

Interim authorities have cracked down on Islamists, with Muslim Brotherhood supporters staging near-daily protests to denounce the interim government and the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. Attempts for reconciliation, both domestic and international, have reached a deadlock.

Speaking about the adopted political roadmap following Morsi's ouster, Makhioun said that the present situation is a "new reality which cannot be ignored or bypassed." He said that participating in the 50-member constitutional committee was the only option.

The political party has expressed its willingness to participate with all factions of society and to cure the "negative effects" of the past year without excluding, marginalizing, or isolating the Islamist current.

Makhioun said that this draft of the constitution appeals to the hopes of the Egyptian people in a very difficult time.

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