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Egypt's constitutional committee marginalises Islamists: Nour Party

Salafist Nour Party says committee tasked with drafting new constitution is dominated by leftists and Nasserists, Islamists under-represented

Ahram Online, Monday 2 Sep 2013
Al-Nour
Deputy head of Al-Nour party Bassam Al-Zarqa and Salafist preacher Yasser Borhami at the Shura council, November 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's newly formed constitutional committee marginalises the Islamic current, the Nour Party has complained.

"The formation of the committee is really bad and reflects the domination of the leftist-Nasserist faction," Sherif Taha, spokesperson for Egypt's largest Salafist party, said in a statement on Sunday.

The 50-member committee includes only two Islamists: ex-Muslim Brotherhood leader Kamal El-Helbawy and Nour Party deputy leader Bassam El-Zarqa.

Taha added that his party was still evaluating the situation, stressing that "all options are on the table."

Nour was Egypt’s second largest bloc in the now-dissolved 2012 parliament and participated in the controversial Constituent Assembly, which drafted the 2012 constitution.

A week before the 50 nominees were announced, Nour Party spokesperson Nader Bakkar told Ahram Online he was worried about unequal representation on the constitutional committee.

Bakkar explained that his party did not want to stall Egypt's transition process, despite being "underrepresented" in the constitution writing process.

Meanwhile, Salafist Call leader Yasser Borhami said the committee was dominated by "enemies of Sharia [Islamic law] and the Islamic project."

He further complained that while the Islamic current had been marginalised from the committee, at least 11 leftists and Nasserists were included.

"A real national dialogue within two months is not possible due to excessive differences on several matters," Borhami added at a press statement on Monday.

Nour had earlier said it would boycott the constitutional committee after Article 219 was removed by the technical committee that amended the constitution before passing it on to the broader committee. The party later retreated, saying the issue could still be debated by the 50-member committee.

Article 219 defined Sharia (Islamic law), which is mentioned in Article 2 as the main source of legislation in Egypt. The article was added by the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly in 2012. It states: "The principles of Islamic Sharia include its commonly accepted interpretations, its fundamental and jurisprudential rules and its widely considered sources, as stated by the schools of Sunna and Gamaa."

The Salafist party warned that eliminating this article was an attempt to move Egyptians away from their "Islamic identity."

Presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi announced on Sunday the composition of the 50-member committee tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution.

The committee will examine amendments drawn up by a separate committee of legal experts formed in July, and will produce a final draft of the constitution within 60 days.

Interim President Adly Mansour will then put the constitution to a national referendum within 30 days of receiving the final draft. It will be effective upon public approval.

The 2012 constitution was suspended as part of a roadmap put forth by the Egyptian armed forces, together with political groups and religious figures, which saw former president Mohamed Morsi ousted on 3 July following mass protests.

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