Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood says Islamic Shariah law must be the basis of Egypt's new constitution, and legislation must be based on Islamic penal code.
In a statement published on Wednesday the Brotherhood said that a country ruled by Shariah would not become a theocracy. President Mohammed Morsi comes from the Brotherhood.
The statement appeared to be an attempt to clarify the group's position toward the country's most contentious issue - the extent of Islamic influence in governance and legislation.
The 100-member Islamist-led panel tasked with drafting the new document has been facing heavy criticism, mostly from liberals who fear Islamization of Egypt through its work.
The constitution would be a key definer of Egypt's government and society after last year's ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
It seems that the vaguely worded statement was meant in reality to accomplish two goals, having to do with Egypt's internal politics.
On one hand, the release was meant to ease pressure from the Salafi movement, who criticized the Brotherhood in recent for backing down from their intention to base Egypt's new constitution on Shariah law.
On the other, the statement was meant to diminish secular and liberal concerns from an full-on Islamization of the constitution.
Controversy on the issue is focusing on the wording of the constitution's reference to the Shariah.
The constitution due to be replaced by new legislative measures stated that the "principles of the Sharia" would serve as the basis of Egyptian law, a wording most in the secular and liberal bloc prefer since it allows civilian law more space to deal with Sharia law.
However, the Egypt's Salafi bloc would like to see the current wording changed so as to say that "Sharia verdicts" will serve as the basis of Egyptian law, effectively turning Muslim clerics into the country's legislators.
In their statement on Wednesday, the Muslim Brotherhood reiterated the current phrasing, according to which Egyptian law would be based on the "principles of the Sharia," adding, however, a clause that indicates that these principles include the "rulings" made by clerics and in the "accepted sources" of Koran interpretation.
Yousri Hamad, the official spokesman of the Al Noor Salafi Muslim political party, said in response to the Brotherhood's statement that the "clarifications are acceptable."
The Salafi movement intends to hold a march during the upcoming weekend, meant to pressure the government into basing the constitution on Muslim law.
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