Egypt Islamists approve new Constitution
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Last Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012, 15:26
  
Cairo: Egypt's Constituent Assembly on Friday in a marathon session approved a draft constitution imposing Islamic values, a move opposed by Liberals as an attempt to restrict freedom of speech and religion in the country.

According to Egyptian state TV, the articles passed stipulate that Islam is the religion of the state, and the principles of Sharia, or Islamic law, are the "main source of legislation".

The Islamists-dominated Assembly sent the draft to President Mohamed Mursi, who is expected to submit it for public approval in a referendum. Liberal and leftist members and church representatives withdrew from the Assembly in protest at what they saw as attempts by the body's Islamist majority to force its views through.

The draft is unchanged from the previous Constitution under Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled as president last year in a popular uprising.

The draft also says that Christianity and Judaism will be the "main source of legislation" for Egyptian Christians and Jews.

The Assembly also adopted a new article that al-Azhar mosque and university, authorities on Sunni Muslim jurisprudence, must be consulted on "matters related to sharia".

The president's tenure will be limited to two four-year terms. The opponents of the draft voiced concern that some clauses - such as the importance of promoting family values - could be used to restrict freedom of speech.

They also said that there was no specific article establishing equality between men and women.

The marathon session, which started yesterday, comes ahead of a hearing scheduled on Sunday before the Supreme Constitutional Court to hear a case calling for the dissolution of Constituent Assembly. Senior judges have been in a stand-off with the president since he granted himself sweeping new powers.

An emergency decree issued last week said Mursi's decisions could not be revoked by any authority, including the judiciary, until the new constitution had been ratified and fresh parliamentary elections held.

The president insists the powers he has taken are meant to be temporary and will protect the transition to a constitutional democracy, but their breadth has raised fears that he might become a new strongman and triggered mass opposition protests across the country.

In an interview broadcast late yesterday, Mursi, the first democratically elected president, said that enacting the new constitution was the way out of Egypt's current political crisis.

"The declaration meets the requirements of the current period and will expire as soon as a new constitution is approved through a popular referendum," said Mursi. He added he had "sensed a danger to the nation" and had to conduct "a very careful surgery" to address the situation.

Meanwhile, independent groups called for Friday protests to reject recent constitutional declaration.

PTI


First Published: Friday, November 30, 2012, 11:24


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