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Egypt’s new constitution should preserve the wording of Article 2 of the 1971 Constitution stipulating that the “principles” of Islamic law are the main source of legislation, said the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar on Tuesday, sparking condemnation from Salafi politicians.
At a press conference at his office, Ahmed al-Tayyeb said Al-Azhar’s decisive and final stance is to consider Article2 “untouchable” as it represents “the doctrine and the identity of the nation.”
“We should not allow differences on lexical issues to open the door for sedition”, he said.
As the Constituent Assembly discusses proposed amendments to the article, conservative Islamist groups are adamant that the new constitution should cite Sharia, rather than its principles, as the main source of legislation.
Al-Azhar’s stance has triggered criticism by Islamists, most notably Salafi groups.
The head of the Salafi Asala Party, Adel Afify, considered voting a “yes” vote for the new constitution as a violation of Islam if Article 2 stipulated that only the principles of Sharia would be the main source of legislation.
“I expected Al-Azhar to defend Sharia, however, its leadership stance was disappointing,” he told Al-Masry Al-Youm, urging Egyptians to reject the constitution.
Younes Makhyoun, an MP representing the Salafi-oriented Nour Party and member of the Constituent Assembly, expected discussions on Article 2 to be tabled due to conflicts over the article.
He also added that talks between his party and leaders in Al-Azhar over the article stopped after the latter had rejected dropping the word “principles.”
However, he added that the party is holding talks with all political powers over the wording to convince them that majority of the Egyptian people want to apply God’s rules.