Salafist Muslims Demand Sharia Law in Egypt's New ConstitutionWorld | November 2, 2012, Friday // 17:58| views
Egyptian protesters gather at Tahrir square during a protest calling for drafting the new constitution in accordance with the Islamic Sharia (Islamic law), in Cairo, Egypt, 02 November 2012. EPA/BGNES
Several hundred Salafist Muslims have demonstrated in the Egyptian capital Cairo with demands for Islamic law or sharia in Egypt's new constitution.
The number of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square was small because the main Salafist groups decided to postpone their demonstration on the issue to a later date, according to international media correspondents.
Egypt's new constitution is set to replace the 1971 charter suspended by the military which took power when long-time President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011.
Fundamentalist Islamists want the new constitution to have the precepts of sharia as the basis for legislation, a stance rejected by liberal and secular Egyptians, international media report.
Contentious topics in the drafting of the new constitution include the role of religion, the status of women and the scope of freedom of expression and faith.
Article 2 of the draft states that "Islam is the religion of the State, Arabic is its official language and the principles of Islamic sharia form the main source of legislation" while the suspended constitution limited itself to referring to sharia as the "principal source" of legislation.
Ultraconservative Islamists had asked to replace "the principles of Islamic sharia" by "the rulings of sharia" or even just "sharia." They further wanted a provision stating that the Al-Azhar institution - Sunni Islam's main seat of learning – is "the state reference for the interpretation of sharia."
A 100-member Constituent Assembly, dominated by Islamists, has been tasked with drafting the new constitution of Egypt.
Egypt's powerful and once banned Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks President Mohamed Morsi comes, has pledged that the new constitution would make reference to sharia, while suggesting a compromise in terms.
On October 23, an Egyptian court meant to rule on the fate of the Islamist-dominated constitutional panel instead referred the case to a superior court which has already expressed its opposition to the draft charter.
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