• 04:01
  • Sunday ,10 July 2011

Salafi, liberal representatives disagree on main source of legislation

By-Tamim Elyan-Daily News Egypt

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Sunday ,10 July 2011

Salafi, liberal representatives disagree on main source of legislation

CAIRO: The main source of legislation and the definitions of the concepts of freedom, equality and human rights emerged as the main points of difference in liberal and Salafi streams’ views of the upcoming constitution.

In a debate organized Friday by Bridges Foundation, representatives of both streams disagreed on whether to apply Islamic Sharia or to have Sharia principles as the main source of the legislation in the constitution, and whether to have freedom defined by Islamic laws or by public interest.
However, both sides agreed on limiting the authorities of the ruler and preventing a dictatorship for the majority over the minority.
Abdel Moneim Al-Shahat, spokesperson of the Salafi movement in Alexandria presented "an Islamic constitution" that stated that applying Sharia is a must, legislation source is from God and the legislator only follows it, freedom is an obligation defined by Sharia because public interest is variable, non-Muslims can refer to their religious laws, Islamic punishments must be applied if the religious conditions for applying it exist.
He said that this includes aborting the current economic system based on bank profits gradually.
It also stated that the ruler and citizens are equal, the Shoura Council must be applied and that the state has an obligation to provide food, shelter and facilitate marriage for its citizens.
The constitution left the issue of the nature of the republican system whether presidential or parliament to specialists to decide on based on the interest of the country.
On the other side, Amr Hamzawy, political expert and one of the founders of Masr Al-Horreya Party, said that liberals want a constitution that guarantees a civil sate where all citizens are equal regardless of religion or race, social justice in the form of a market economy that is socially disciplined and the rule of law.
He also called for balance between authorities in which the legislative authority is the center and guaranteeing political, social and economic freedoms that don't contradict Islamic sharia.
"Liberalism doesn't separate between state and religion but organizes the relationship between them; we don't want people speaking in politics on behalf of religion because politics is changeable while religion is a constant," said Hamzawy.
He said that the type of system we will have is a central issues that all political powers should discuss and not be left to specialists to decide and that the change in public interest is only based on political objectives.
Al-Shahat expressed concerns that if liberals come to power they would cancel Al-Azhar and limit preaching activities. However Hamzawy said that they welcomed Al-Azhar’s bill of rights to encourage a moderate Islamic speech based on the correct understanding of religion.
"We are not against Article 2 of the constitution but we want to add to it a phrase guaranteeing the rights of non-Muslims to resort to their religious laws in their personal affairs; we want liberalism that is consistent with Islam and the society," Hamzawy said.
Al-Shahat said that they don't want to enforce religion on the people but they are obliged to call for Islam and tell people that other religions are false without obliging them to join Islam. On the other hand, he said, liberals leave people the choice without telling them what's right or wrong.
Both sides agreed on the need to reach a reconciliation to identify their similarities and differences and build on them.
"Political streams in Egypt never had the chance to develop programs and present it for public discussions that's why we are hearing a variety of opinions with the same stream and this will only be regulated by the political movement of the society,” Hamzawy said.