'Principles' of Sharia law must remain primary source of legislation: Egypt's Grand Imam

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Jul 2012

Egypt's Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb says new constitution must be based on 'principles' of Islamic law as specified in 1971 national charter

Ahmed el-Tayeb
Egypt's Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb (Photo: Reuters)

Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, Egypt's most senior Islamic cleric, has said the principles of Islamic law must remain the primary source of legislation in Egypt's new constitution.

El-Tayeb made the comments at a press conference on Tuesday.

Article two of the 1971 constitution, which defines the role of Islamic law in Egypt, must remain unchanged, he said.

Furthermore, the High Constitutional Court (HCC) should overturn any law that conflicts with article two.

It was his responsibility to the nation and God to make this statement, he added.

Article two has stirred controversy among members of Egypt's constitution-drafting assembly.

Conservative Islamists forces within the assembly have called for the removal of the term "principals" to make Islamic law per se the "primary source" of Egyptian law. They threatened to withdraw from the assembly if the article wasn’t amended in this way.

Meanwhile, secular and liberal parties have insisted the article remains unchanged to preserve the civil-state nature of Egyptian society.

The first constitution-drafting assembly, chosen by MPs on 17 March 2012, was dissolved in April following criticisms by various non-Islamist about the preponderance of Islamist members (66 out of 100) on the body.

While negotiating the formation of the assembly's second version, a deal was reached between Islamists and non-Islamists over the membership ratio, whereby Islamists would only take 50 per cent of the seats.  However, shortly afterwards non-Islamist figures again complained of unequal representation.


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