Monday, November 19, 2012

Troubles with the Egyptian Constituent Assembly

Friday of Islamic Sharia in Tahrir Square. Photo Credit Al Masry Al Youm.

The Constituent Assembly is the somewhat difficult name for the group of Egyptians tasked with writing the Constitution for this emergent democracy.

On Sunday, several leftist and liberal members withdrew from the Constituent Assembly. Further, Coptic Orthodox Pope Bishop Pachomius announced the withdrawal of three Christian members from the CA on Saturday. I am of two minds about this. First, I can see that maybe some of them feel they are participating in a fundamentally flawed process. Principles aside, they risk handing the task over to conservative Islamists, which will result in a document not widely accepted by the entire Egyptian population, particularly the educated population.

Salafis in the CA wanted to replace the idea of "Sharia principles" with the idea of "Sharia provisions," which would leave less open to interpretation in the Constitution, and might usher in a Sunni theocracy of sorts.

Christians and liberals are protesting what they see as an "Islamic" Constitution.  They are also concerned about the far reaching powers granted to the Executive by the Constitutional draft. Further, there is concern that the way the draft is currently written, it would preclude a civil state. The Church has said that the withdrawal of the Christian members of the CA is final.

~WMB

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