Egypt’s Draft Constitution Opens the Door to a Religious State

Egypt’s Draft Constitution Opens the Door to a Religious State

Ragab Saad, for the Atlantic Council's Egypt Source:

If this constitution passes, it will be the first Egyptian Constitution that adopts a specific religious doctrine for the state. It also means that ancient texts on Islamic jurisprudence, and others that may not even exist anymore, will become sources of Egyptian legislation from which a parliamentary majority may select what it wants from its provisions, instituting authoritarianism in the name of religion. This scenario is the driving force behind the insistence that the constitution provide for a democratic regime in Egypt based on the principles of "Shura" (or consultation). It is an ambiguous concept that has no specific legal characterization, but it refers to a legacy of jurisprudence that ensures that “Shura” does not belong to the ruler alone. This is the essence of democracy.

The political climate in Egypt appears volatile, heated, and tense, with no signs of the social or political consensus necessary for the drafting of a new constitution. In the event that the Administrative Court dissolves the current Constituent Assembly, President Mohamed Morsi will form a new assembly under the provisions of Constitutional Declaration he issued in August. The president will not likely be able avoid a renewed crisis in the Constituent Assembly, and by extension the perpetuation of the conflict between Islamist parties and civil political groups. However, it is worth noting that the civil forces have yet to formulate a clear vision on the formation of the Constituent Assembly if the court rules to dissolve the current Assembly.

Yup on all counts.


Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,