Egypt´s Islamists to play key role in constitution (AP) Associated Press) By AYA BATRAWY CAIRO, EGYPT 03/17/12 4:40 pm ET)
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CAIRO – Egypt´s Islamist-dominated parliament on Saturday voted
overwhelmingly in favor of ensuring that its own lawmakers make up a
large portion of a panel writing the country´s first constitution
after the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Lawmakers at a joint meeting of both houses approved a quota giving
lawmakers half of the seats on a 100-member panel that will draft the
The remaining 50 panel members will be chosen by parliament, and are
likely to be legal experts, academics and Muslim and Christian
The makeup of the panel has been hotly debated. Islamists, who
dominate the newly elected parliament, wanted lawmakers to have a
significant role in the panel. But many Christians and liberals had
pushed for more outsiders on the constitution writing body.
Amr Hamzawy, a lawmaker from a minority liberal party, said that the
quota selected on Saturday is not representative enough of women,
youth and other segments of Egyptian society who have little to no
representation in parliament.
"What happened today lessens the chance for a wide representation of
the country," Hamzawy said, adding that he voted to have only 30
lawmakers on the panel. "I would have liked that there are less
members of parliament."
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country´s most powerful political party,
has promised that the constitution will be inclusive and are not
likely to support changing key wording from its current state about
the role of Islam in the government. The current language says the
state religion is Islam and the principle of Islamic Sharia law is
the main source of legislation.
However, some ultraconservative Muslims have called for the article
to be changed to read that Islamic law is the only source of
legislation — a proposal opposed by liberals and moderate Islamists.
The 678-member newly-elected parliament is dominated by the Muslim
Brotherhood, which controls nearly half of seats in the more powerful
lower house. Ultraconservatives from within the Al-Nour party control
about a quarter of the seats.
Although ideologically different, together the two parties will
appoint a number of members from within their own ranks, giving them
a formidable presence on the constitutional panel and a strong voice
in the process.
The panel is supposed to be selected by March 24. Once the panel is
seated, it will have six months to draft the constitution and then
put it to a national referendum. (© 2012 The Associated Press
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