Divisive articles settled in draft constitution

01-10-2012 08:21 PM

Adel Mounir


Judge Edward Ghaleb who is among the Church’s representatives to the Constituent Assembly which is currently drafting Egypt’s future constitution

Judge Edward Ghaleb who is among the Church’s representatives to the Constituent Assembly which is currently drafting Egypt’s future constitution, told Watani that many of the so-called divisive articles—articles over which the members of the assembly are strongly divided—in the draft constitution have finally been settled. 
Article 2 of the 1971 Constitution, Ghaleb said, should remain unchanged, stipulating that “the principles of the Islamic sharia are the main source of legislation”. The controversy had been over Salafi demands to replace “rules” for “principles”. 
A new article was added to the draft constitution concerning non-Muslims, he said, stipulating that “The respective religious laws of Egyptian Christians and Jews are the sources of legislation of their personal status affairs, religious affairs and the choice of their religious leaders”.
Ghaleb said it had been agreed among the members of the constituent assembly to permanently exclude from the constitution the article which was proposed to impose zakat (Islamic alms), leaving such a provision to subsequent laws. 
The text which places the venerable Islamic institution of al-Azhar as the sole reference for interpreting the principles of Islamic sharia was also removed, according to Ghaleb. A special article would be added, he said, to stipulate the academy of senior Islamic scholars as the reference for Islamic affairs.
The battle that is still going on, however, Ghaleb said, is the one on the minimum age of marriage for women. The rights and freedoms committee, he explained, has agreed that trafficking in women should be banned—rights activists consider the marriage of underage girls a form of human trafficking—while Islamist members insist that the constitution should define no minimum marriage age, basing on the fact that girls were married off in Islamic times once they reached puberty.
Watani International
1 October 2012
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