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Nour representative withdrew from session not committee: Party Chairman

Head of Salafist Nour party says no decision to withdraw from constitution committee yet

Ahram Online, Tuesday 17 Sep 2013
Younes Makhion
Chairman of Salafist Nour Party, Younes Makhion (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Chairman of Salafist Nour Party, Younes Makhion, asserted on Monday that his party's representative withdrew from the constitution-drafting session in protest over how the meeting was run, accusing certain committee members of "excluding views" from the discussion.

Nour Party representative, Bassam Al-Zarka, withdrew from the assembly session following a dispute over Islamic-related articles in the suspended 2012 constitution, which is currently being revised.

The withdrawal of Al-Zarka appeared contradictory, as the party stated on Sunday that they would welcome the Sunni Islamic institution of Al-Azhar having the final say on whether "Islamic  identity" articles are included in Egypt's new charter. 

"El-Zarqa's withdrawal from the meeting doesn't mean he's withdrawing from the 50-member committee," explained Makhioun in a press statement, adding that his party is currently "looking into the incident."

The ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party has previously expressed concerns over tweaks made to a number of Islamic-related articles in the constitution. These include an article spelling out the principles of Islamic Sharia, which the charter adopts as the main source of legislation.

During Monday's meeting, Al-Zarka proposed adding the word "rules" instead of "principles" to the phrase "Islamic Sharia," or simply removing the word "principles" from the phrasing of the article. Both proposals were dismissed by the head and members of the subsidiary committee running the meeting, according to Al-Zarka, prompting the Salafist figure to withdraw.

The Nour Party, along with other Islamist forces - predominantly Muslim Brotherhood representatives - dominated Egypt's 2012 constituent assembly under former president Mohamed Morsi. Nour is the only Islamist party represented in the current constitution-drafting body. 

Khaled Alam El-Din, another leading member of the Salafist party, said that Al-Zarka's withdrawal from the session has given the party time to consider whether it will withdraw from the committee or not.

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