Egypt's Maspero Youth Union says constitutional declaration 'shocking'

Ahram Online, Wednesday 10 Jul 2013

The Coptic group says constitutional declaration does not uphold religious and cultural diversity

Coptic protesters stage a sit-in outside of Maspero, the Egyptian state media building, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, has expressed its opposition to the constitutional declaration issued on Monday by interim president Adly Mansour.

In a statement released Tuesday, the group described the 33-article declaration, which outlines the roadmap for the transitional period expected to last six months, as "shocking."

"The [constitutional declaration] is not compatible with the ideals of the 30 June uprising... that went out for a civil state that upholds religious and cultural diversity," the statement read.

The declaration was criticised for its first article that states that the Arab Republic of Egypt is a democratic system based on citizenship, that Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its official language and the principles of sharia law derived from established Sunni canons are its main source of legislation.

This article combines Articles 1, 2 and 219 of the suspended constitution. The latter was added by Islamists to outline the meaning of "principles of Islamic sharia" mentioned in the second article.

In Egypt's previous 1971 constitution, article two also stated that the principles of sharia are the primary source of legislation, but added no more details.

This has long caused debate on the validity of stating specific religious sources for the country's legislation.

"[On 30 June] we went out to bring down their failed constitution that built a state of hate and violence," the Coptic group said in the statement.

"We did not take to the streets to give legitimacy to religious-based political parties that were about to erase Egypt's identity," the statement continued.

The group added that the country has a lot of qualified young Egyptians who should have participated in drafting the declaration.

The Coptic group also said that "it seems the revolution is not complete," and they will continue to work to fulfil its aspirations.

The constitutional declaration was opposed by several political forces.

The Rebel campaign, which spearheaded the 30 June protests that toppled former president Mohamed Morsi, and the April 6 Youth Movement both stated on Tuesday that interim president Adly Mansour had listened to their reservations regarding Egypt's new constitutional declaration and promised to issue a constitutional addendum accordingly.

The National Salvation Front (NSF) also said in a statement that it had reservations about some articles in the declaration and would send the interim president detailed recommendations about the changes it wanted to see.

Former president Morsi was deposed by Egypt's Armed Forces last week following massive nationwide protests calling for his removal. Judge Adly Mansour, the head of the High Constitutional Court, was sworn in as the country's interim president on Thursday.

Egypt constitution, which was approved in January 2013, was suspended and a constitutional amendments committee is expected to be formed soon.

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