Egypt's New Constitution is Islamic in Character
Mohammed Morsi the President of Egypt is a member of the Muslim brotherhood. It is worth recalling that the Muslim brotherhood was banned under the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak. It was also involved in the assassination of Anwar Sadat the predecessor of Mubarak to the presidency.
The Muslim brotherhood has an unstinted agenda of an Islamic state where the Sharia will remain supreme. Keeping this in mind Mohammed Morsi carried out a referendum to get the new constitution approved. The Referendum took place on 16 Dec 2012 and the new constitution was signed into law by Morsi on 25 December 2012.
The government claimed that 64% of the votes cast were in favor of the government proposal for a constitution based on the Sharia. This is true, but the fact that only 33% of the electorate voted shows that in real terms Morsi had an endorsement from only 18% of the populace.
The constitution in some respects is similar to the 1971 constitution which was framed by President Anwar Sadat. The constitution like the 1971 constitution says as per article 2 will draw its inspiration from the Sharia. It also has some positive points in that the term of President is restricted to 2 terms, which was not there earlier.
Article 2 of the constitution states that the Islam is the religion of the state and the source of all laws is the Sharia. Further Article 4 of the constitution states the Al Zahra Grand sheikh will give his interpretation of all laws concerning theology and Islamic law.
The crucial article that has been added at the behest of the Islamists is Article 219. This article has far reaching ramifications. It says that the source and interpretation of all laws of evidence, evidence, foundational rules, and rules of jurisprudence will be governed by the Sharia. This is a contentious article and is opposed by all human rights groups and minorities in Egypt. This article by accepting the rules of Sharia opens the door to polygamy, child marriage and laws of evidence regarding the requirement of evidence of 2 women being necessary compared to one man.
Article 48-53 have some good provisions regarding arrest, detention and political dissent including processions and meeting. But the moot point is that in case the basis of all laws is the Sharia as per article 219, a powerful over rider is added.
The constitution only recognizes 2 minorities namely Christian and Jews. All other minorities like Ahmedia’s, Bahia's, Shiites and Buddhists will have no recognition as minorities. This has alarmed human rights groups.
Lastly we can conclude that with article 2 and 219 the Islamic character of the new constitution is credibly established.