Al-Azhar not to be source of law in Egypt charter: Spokesman

Ahram Online, Tuesday 4 Sep 2012

Constituent Assembly spokesman dismisses speculation that Egypt's Al-Azhar would constitute 'source of legislation' in country's post-revolution constitution

A spokesman for Egypt's Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution has denied recent speculation that Egypt's Al-Azhar would represent a "source of legislation" in the country's new national charter.

In statements issued Tuesday, spokesman Waheed Abdel-Meguid dismissed rumours that assembly members were considering the amendment of Article 2 of Egypt's existing constitution to make Al-Azhar – the highest seat of religious learning in the Sunni-Muslim world – a source of Egyptian law.

Article 2 of Egypt's 1971 constitution states that "the principles of Islamic law" should constitute the "principal source" of legislation.

On 28 August, Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, member of both the Constituent Assembly and the Salafist Nour Party, stated that the ongoing dispute over Article 2 should be put to a vote by the assembly's general committee.

According to Abdel-Maqsoud, the vote on the controversial article would be based on three options: firstly, that the article remain as it was in Egypt's 1971 constitution; secondly, the removal of the word 'principles' to make Islamic law itself the main source of legislation; and, thirdly, for the 1971 version of the article to remain as it was, but with an additional stipulation making Al-Azhar an additional source of legislation.

Abdel-Meguid, however, insisted on Tuesday that issues of state and religion had yet to be discussed by the assembly.

During the drafting process of Egypt's first post-revolution constitution, Article 2 has provoked disputes among the various political trends within the Constituent Assembly, with Islamist members demanding the removal of the word "principles" so as to make Islamic Law itself – and not merely "the principles of Islamic Law" – the primary source of Egyptian law.

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