Al-Azhar withdraws from constituent assembly

Ahram Online , Thursday 29 Mar 2012

Egypt's official Islamic institution joins growing list of parties and figures resigning from newly elected constituent assembly after claiming it was 'marginalised'

Nasr Farid Wassel
Sheikh Nasr Farid Wassel (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Al-Azhar and its Islamic Research Centre announced Thursday the withdrawal of their representative, former grand mufti of Egypt Sheikh Nasr Farid Wassel, from the constituent assembly.

According to the press statement released by the world-famous seat of Islamic learning, Al-Azhar left the assembly in protest of "attempts by some to marginalise its role in Egypt." This follows the rejection of Al-Azhar's proposed 11-article statement of general constitutional principles.

The Al-Azhar Document  was drafted last summer together with numerous prominent intellectuals and religious figures. In it, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, laid out his support for a "democratic and constitutional" state, adding that theocratic states have always been autocratic.

The Document was praised across the political spectrum, including receiving support from leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, liberal parties like the Free Egyptians Party as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and some Salafists.

Although generally accepted as a useful foundation for the constitution, it was subsequently ignored by the constituent assembly.

Since the final assembly list was released on 24 March, most of the liberal party representatives and independents in the constituent assembly have resigned because it is so heavily dominated by Islamists.  

The Supreme Constitutional Court representative also resigned in objection to a recent statement made by the Muslim Brotherhood that the court would cooperate with the ruling military council to allow the rigging of the presidential elections.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is set to hold a second meeting with all the parties in Parliament, in order to resolve the constituent assembly crisis, following the daily withdrawal of its members.  

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