Smart Power: Egypt Hurriedly Passes Islamist Style Constitution

Who could have possibly seen this coming when the Obama administration decided to throw Mubarak under the bus?

(LA Times) Egypt’s Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly passed a rushed draft of a constitution early Friday to ease public anger against President Mohamed Morsi’s expanded powers and preempt an expected court decision to disband the chamber this weekend.

The proposed constitution states that the nation will be governed by the “principles” of Islamic law, the same wording in the charter under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak. But liberal critics argue that the language in certain articles of the constitution is open to interpretation and could allow conservative Islamists to impose a rigid version of sharia law. (snip)

The final draft omitted a stipulation that equality for women would be protected only if it didn’t conflict with sharia law. The charter, however, does not define discrimination by gender and states that women, not men, must balance their duties between family and work. Another article forbids the “defaming of messengers and prophets” but does not define defamation, opening the possibility of limiting freedom of expression and allowing clerics to condemn perceived “infidels.” (snip)

The draft charter states that Egypt is a Muslim nation and that – for the first time in the republic’s history – parliament must consult clerics at Al Azhar mosque, a revered institution in Sunni Islam, on legislation “related to Islamic sharia.”

Ultraconservative Islamists, known as Salafis, were pressing for the document, which contains 230 articles, to explicitly state that sharia was the “primary source” of legislation. But moderates in the Muslim Brotherhood – in a concession to liberals – opted for less strict wording and, in a number of areas, limited attempts by Salafis to imbue the charter with fundamentalist overtones.

We aren’t quite at the point that the Egyptian constitution mimics Iran, but, they’re getting there, and this would entrench the principles of Sharia law within the Egyptian society. As Rusty Shackleford writes

Whereas the former government oppressed the Egyptian people by ignoring the law and Constitution (hey, it’s what dictators do), the new government will now oppress the people through the law.

Once the draft is passed, it is supposed to go to the Egyptian people for a yes or no vote. It will be interesting to see which way they jump.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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