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Egypt: Conservatives Fear Constitutional Change May Allow Homosexuality

in EGYPT, 11/03/2011

In the aftermath of the anti-Mubarak revolution in Egypt, and while many activists and scholars argue in favor of amending articles of the current constitution, one of the most conservative Islamic groups in Egypt is worried that changing certain articles of the constitution may be used to legalize homosexuality in the country.

At the heart of the debate is the second article of the country's constitution, which declare Islam as the official religion and the primary source of legislation. The article states: "Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its officiallanguage, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence(Sharia)."

Some scholars such as Dr. Amr Hamzawy, a political science professor at Cairo University and a researcher with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believe that the current Second Article discriminates against Christian and other non-Muslim citizens,  and therefore undermines the role of the constitution as a symbolic document that should defines the relationship between citizens and the state.

On the opposite side of this spectrum is the Egyptian Salafi group, a religiously conservative group that promotes the puritan form of Islam. The group's extremist views have put them at odds with other political forces in the country, including Islamic
Brotherhood.

While the Salafi group has asked its followers to support constitutional changes to limit the term of president and to restrict the conditions under which the state of emergency can be declared, but they are vehemently against any amendment to the Second Article of the current constitution. As the spokesman for the group, Sheikh Abdul Mon'am Al-shahat, told Aljazeera Arabic, "Even under the former brutal regime, the Second Article guaranteed that government's can not breach the Islamic faith or pass
legislations that legalize homosexuality or other issue.

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