By Omneya Makhlouf
Article 2 affirmed that Islam is the religion of the state and Sharia is its point of reference. The charter did not include details regarding what Sharia entails, and did not mention the role of Al-Azhar in state affairs. No mention is made of religious minorities or their rights. Under Article 46, the state is held responsible for guaranteeing the freedom of belief and “practice of religious rites” or rituals.
Article 4 discussed the role of Al-Azhar as an institution, stating that it is responsible for preaching Islam and specified that it be consulted by the state in matters of Islamic law. The charter provides specific details for the sources of Islamic Sharia in Article 219, which include credible sources accepted in Sunni doctrines. It can be argued that this discriminates against the Shiaa minority in Egypt. Article 3 discusses the rights of Egyptian Christians and Jews. Under Article 43, the freedom of belief is referred to as an “inviolable right,” obliging the state to establish places of worship for all three “heavenly religions,” referring to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, while Article 44 banned any insult of “all religious messengers or prophets.” Article 11 stipulates that the state protect morals and foster education, religious, and patriotic values, among other aspects.
Under Article 7, aspects of Al-Azhar’s obligations and rights are not stipulated. Article 7 also removes the clause regarding the state’s obligations to assist Al-Azhar financially. The clause listing specific sources of Sharia is not included. The reference to freedom of belief has been amended to become “absolute” in Article 64 and is not restricted to the three monotheistic religions. The ban on insulting religious figures was also removed in the latest draft constitution. The clause outlining the state’s obligation to protect morals and foster education, religious, and patriotic values has been removed.