Egypt: Ban sought on religious parties, politics in mosques

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After dismantling power of Muslim Brotherhood and its leader Mohamed Morsi (the deposed president), Egypt is debating ban on religious parties and to outlaw political campaigning from mosques.

Riding on the growing backlash against political Islamists, the liberals and secular leaders of Egypt are pressing for a revised Constitution that will root out religion from political landscape.

The 1971 constitution which was in place until the toppling of Hosni Mubarak contained an article explicitly outlawing religious parties. It was replaced last year and allowed Muslim Brotherhood's front to participate in mainstream politics.

The 2012 constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly in November, 2012 was attacked by non-Islamist members as it gave power to Morsi to limit freedom of speech and impose Islamic code.

The interim president has set in motion for a new Constitution amid uncertain political climate.


Some of the revolutionary forces who supported the toppling of Morsi are hoping their demands relating to the sidelining of political Islam can be worked into the revised constitution.

A 10-member committee of six senior judges and four constitutional law professors met on Sunday (July 21) to begin amending Egypt's 2012 Islamist-backed constitution.

The two-and-a-half-hour closed-door meeting set procedure and a timetable for the new Constitution.

Later at a press conference Ali Awad, the committee chairman and Interim President Adly Mansour's constitutional and legal affairs consultant, said that the committee has decided to offer a one-week window for all political forces to submit proposed amendments to the 2012 Constitution. After 28 July, proposed amendments will be revised by a "technical committee of experts," Awad said.

Keeping in tune with the revolution that was led by the social media, the committee will accept suggestions on Constitutional changes by fax or e-mail.

The committee has agreed that the 2012 Constitution be revised article by article so that all remarks raised by political forces can be carefully reviewed.

Revision of old Constitution begins tomorrow

The revision meetings will begin from tomorrow (July 23) and they will be held daily except for Mondays and Thursdays. "We will hold morning and evening meetings until we reach the August 21 deadline," said Awad. This is in accordance with the deadline set by Article 28 of the Interim President's Constitutional declaration.

According to Article 29 of Mansour's Constitutional declaration, all amendments proposed by the committee will be submitted to a larger committee for review. This larger committee will be composed of 50 members representing all sectors of society, including political parties, intellectuals, workers, farmers, professional syndicates, unionists, Al-Azhar, Egyptian churches, the armed forces and the police.

Representation of woman and youth

The committee would have minimum of 10 youth and women members.

The 50-member committee will write the final draft of the new Constitution.

According to Article 30 of the Constitutional declaration, after the final draft is submitted to the president, it must be put to a national referendum within 30 days. If the referendum is approved, the president must set a date for parliamentary elections within 15 days. Within one week of the House of Representatives' first session, a date for presidential elections must be set.

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