Popular committee urges Islamists to support cabinet's constitutional principles document

Popular committee urges Islamists to support cabinet's constitutional principles document

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Thu, 18/08/2011 - 13:55

A self-appointed popular committee concerned with the process of drafting a new constitution is calling on Islamist groups to support the cabinet's proposed constitutional principles document, previously announced by Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy. 

The Popular Committee for Writing the Egyptian Constitution said in a statement on Wednesday that religious parties and Islamist groups should give precedence to the state’s interests over their own narrow interests.

The committee, which held its first meeting in April following a signature-gathering campaign to drum up support for writing a new constitution, includes several public figures, including former parliamentarians, legal experts and judges. The group stated then that it sought to write a draft constitution to be reviewed by authorities and the public.

The committee statement said the cabinet's proposed constitutional principles document is a positive step, but will need to go through several procedural steps to take effect.

The committee emphasized the need for rules to ensure that all groups are represented when a newly-elected parliament appoints the committee that will officially draft a new constitution.

It also expressed reservations over the constitutional article that entreches Islam as Egypt's main religion, saying that the question should be left to individuals. The committee said the article could be used as a pretext for the Islamization of state institutions, adding that retaining the clause citing Sharia law as the primary source of legislation contradicts the notion of a civil state.

Liberals and secular groups in Egypt fear a parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood via its Freedom and Justice Party. Many believe that the group is best organized to take a majority of seats and subsequently dominate the drafing of a new constitution. 

The committee’s general coordinator, Mahmoud Abdel Raheem, implored Islamist forces to stop issuing what he called "false claims" and give priority to the country’s best interests.

Translated from the Arabic Edition