Salafist Nour Party 'exchanges opinions' with Azhar Grand Sheikh

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 Sep 2013

Egypt's Salafist Nour Party met on Wednesday with Azhar's Grand Sheikh to discuss the importance of 'consensus' within the constitutional committee

A delegation from the Salafist Nour party met on Wednesday with the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb.

Spokesman of the Nour party, Sherif Taha, told Ahram Online the meeting, which he described as “positive,” was aimed at “exchanging opinions regarding the questions currently being raised on the political scene, specifically the constitutional process.”

Egypt's 2012 constitution, drafted by a committee dominated by Islamists under former president Mohamed Morsi, has been temporarily suspended. It is currently being reviewed by a 50-member committee formed of representatives of various political parties and public figures, after it was initially amended by a committee of judicial experts.

Younes Makhioun, head of the Nour party, Sayed Mostafa Khalifa, deputy-head of the party, and Galal Mora, general secretary of the party, represented Nour at the meeting, according to the party's official website.

Taha said the meeting also discussed the importance of “consensus” within the constitutional committee.

Nour, the only Islamist party taking part in the constitutional-amending process, has repeatedly said that the committee has marginalised the Islamist current. On Monday, the party's representative walked out of an assembly session, after a heated debate over Islamic-related articles.

Taha added that Wednesday's meeting concerned several controversial articles of the constitution, including article 219, which has been stirring heated debate among committee members.

Article 219 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."

Critics of article 219 say it leaves the door open for discrimination against non-Sunni minorities. The ten-member committee of legal experts who handed suggestions for amendments to the 50-member-committee has recommended the removal of this article.

The Nour party has repeatedly said it will agree to the removal of 219 if the wording “principles” is eliminated from Article Two, which states that "Islam is the religion of the state and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation."

The use of the world principles in Article Two is widely seen as allowing more liberal interpretations of Islamic law.

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