Brotherhood leader: Final voting on constitution to begin next week

Muslim Brotherhood leader and Constituent Assembly member Sobhi Saleh said that the assembly’s final voting on the draft constitution will begin next week, paving the way for the final document to be ready in mid-November.

The constitution will be presented to committees of experts before the president issues a decree to put it up for a popular referendum.

Regarding the lawsuits demanding the Constituent Assembly’s dissolution, Saleh told Al-Arabiya website Saturday, “The assembly does its job apart from those cases, because it sees [its work] as a patriotic work that should not be stopped pending the [rulings] in those cases.”

Saleh added that the judicial ruling to dissolve the first Constituent Assembly was politically motivated, and that demands to dissolve the second iteration are unjustified.

The second formation of the Constituent Assembly has been drafting the post-Mubarak constitution since June, amid attacks from liberal parties over the body’s domination by Islamists.

An administrative court is currently considering lawsuits demanding the dissolution of the assembly because it includes members of Parliament, which violates the Constitutional Declaration that has governed the country since March 2011.

Saleh said that adding the phrase “when not against God’s law” to the article on women's rights in the new constitution is designed to address Egypt’s obligations under international treaties, which includes articles contrary to Islamic law, such as equality between men and women in inheritance, the legalization of gay marriage, the banning polygamy and other items that are inconsistent with Sharia.

“The attack launched now by some feminist movements is not justified, because the new constitution guarantees an article that emphasizes the state’s commitment to women’s empowerment and rights,” he said.

Saleh added that this article was drafted without objection from members of the assembly, saying, “It was not subjected to dispute or debate.” He further accused opponents of the article’s wording of “not recognizing the Muslim religion, and creating chaos without understanding.”

A number of activists, including Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights head Nehad Aboul Komsan and media activist Bothaina Kamel, have sharply criticized Article 36, saying it is the only article in the constitution that defers to Sharia and that restrictions on women’s rights would undo gains made by past feminist activism.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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