The Salafi Nour Party’s representative in the constitutional committee walked out on Monday’s meeting following a heated debate on the future of an article pertaining to Sharia.
The 50-member committee tasked with overhauling the 2012 Constitution ratified under former President Mohamed Morsi reportedly refused to include Article 219 — which elaborates on the details and sources of Sharia rules — in the constitutional amendments.
This article was also a source of polarizing controversy for last year’s Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, which finally passed the article, ultimately prompting all non-Islamist forces to quit the drafting committee.
When Nour representative Bassem al-Zarqa’s proposal to keep Article 219 was rejected, he left the Shoura Council building and refused to take calls from the other 49 members of the committee, which is headed by former presidential candidate Amr Moussa.
However, Nour Party leader Khaled Alam Eddin told Mada Masr this does not mean the party has withdrawn from the drafting process altogether.
“This is an objection over the mechanism of the discussion and the preconceived opinions of the committee [members],” Eddin said. “They are not there to discuss; they come with a pre-determined opinion that they want to impose.”
The party has been fighting to keep the old constitution’s articles on Islamic law since early September. These contentious articles include Article 2, which stipulates that the national religion is Islam and Sharia is the main source of legislation.
But while Article 2 will likely be preserved in the amended constitution, Salafis see Article 219 — which stipulates that the principles of Sharia shall include general evidence, foundational and jurisprudental rules accepted in Sunni doctrines — as a necessary articulation.
Early on, the hardline conservative party had threatened to withdraw from the committee when the interim government invited only one representative from the group to join. However, the party later announced that despite strong objections to this lack of representation, an internal vote in favor of participating in the amendment process pushed the group to accept the invitation.
A high-ranking member of the Nour Party said the group would take all necessary measures to preserve the Islamic identity of the new constitution.