Constitution authors lean toward restricting gender equality, religious freedom

Political groups represented in the Constituent Assembly have tentatively agreed on four controversial articles in the draft constitution, an Islamist assembly member said Wednesday.

The four articles in question involve gender equality, children's rights, forced labor and freedom of belief. 

in question are Article 68 on gender equality, Article 67 on children's rights, Article 71 on forced labor, and an article on freedom of belief.

Farid al-Ismail, an assembly member and an official of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said members agree in principle on rewording Article 71, which states, "Slavery, forced labor, the violation of the rights of women and children, as well as the sex trade shall be prohibited and punishable by the law.” It is expected to be changed to add the prohibition of all forms of exploitation.

Ismail told Al-Masry Al-Youm that representatives of political forces agreed, during their meeting on Tuesday, to maintain the children's rights article in its current form.

The agreement also involves restricting freedom of belief and the right to exercise religious rituals and build places of worship to followers of divine religions, namely Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

He noted that those articles will be submitted to the wording committee before being put up for a vote in the General Assembly.

Mohamed Saad Gawish, representative of the Salafi Dawah, said the freedom of religion text was changed from a version granting unrestricted freedom to all religions, not only the divine religions.

He also said the group agreed with representatives of the Salafi Nour Party to either cancel articles on gender equality or maintain them with a requirement of conformity to Islamic law.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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