This might look like a victory for the Islamic supremacists, but it isn’t, actually. This article has been part of the constitution since 1971, i.e., even during the Sadat and Mubarak periods of relative (and undeniably eroding) secularism. Islamic supremacists object to Article Two because it says that the “principles” of Sharia are the “principal” (i.e., not the only) source of legislation, without defining what those principles exactly are, and leaving open the chance to interpret them as simply a commitment to “justice,” while filling in the particulars from more humane and genuinely just legal codes. Thus Islamic supremacists such as the Salafis want the word “principles” removed from Article Two and Article 219 of the Muslim Brotherhood regime’s constitution retained — the article that stipulates that the principles of Sharia are the specific elements of Islamic jurisprudence, including therefore the institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims.
“Islam to remain state religion in Egypt’s new constitution: Spokesperson,” from Ahram Online, September 15:
Egypt’s constitution-drafting committee is unlikely to amend Article Two which defines the role of Islamic law in legislation, committee spokesperson Mohamed Salmawi said on Sunday.
Article Two, which was introduced in the 1971 constitution, states that “Islam is the religion of the state and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation.”
Some leftist members of the 50-member-committee have called for Article Two to be amended in a way that would keep Islam as the official religion of the state while basing legislation on the spirit of all three major monotheistic religions.
At a press conference on Sunday, Salmawi said there were some voices on the 50-member committee — which is mostly made up of liberal and leftist figures — demanding amendments to the article, but the general view was to keep it untouched.
Egypt’s major political factions and the Coptic Orthodox Church support Article Two.
Another article, Article 219 of the now-suspended 2012 constitution, which defines Article Two has been stirring controversy among drafters.
Article 219 states: “The principles of Islamic Sharia include its commonly accepted interpretations, its fundamental and jurisprudential rules and it’s [sic] widely considered sources, as stated by the schools of Sunna and Gamaa.”
Critics of the article say it leaves the door open for discrimination against non-Sunni minorities.
The ten-member committee of experts, who handed suggestions for amendments to the 50-member-committee, had recommended the removal of Article 219.
However, the Salafist Nour Party, which has one representative on the 50-member committee, warned against eliminating 219 arguing “that would strip Egypt of its Islamic identity.”
Nour said it could agree to the removal of 219 if the wording of ‘principle’ is eliminated from Article Two….