A recently released draft of the Egyptian Constitution declares that “Islam is the religion of the state,” which has raised concerns about religious liberty in the country.
News media reported recently that a draft of Article 2 reads, “Islam is the religion of the state; Arabic is the official language of the state; and principles of Islamic Sharia are the major source of legislation.”
A separate provision, however, allows Christians and Jews to follow the laws of their faiths.
In August, a coalition of Egyptian Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders living in the United States sent a letter to the government officials who are drafting the constitution, urging them to exclude any mention of Islamic law from the document and ensure that it protects religious minorities.
The leaders asked that the drafters “to recognize the equality of all Egyptians and to reject any language that would discriminate against any citizen of Egypt on the basis of that citizen’s religion or gender.”
Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, represents a pro-Islamic party called the Muslim Brotherhood. During the campaign, Morsi vowed to implement shariah and often told crowds, “Islam is the solution.”
Despite claims by some that the transition to power by the Muslim Brotherhood brought no radical legal changes, some are skeptical that the ruling party will remain moderate. A July 28 report by The New York Times noted that the Brotherhood prefers “incremental change to sweeping gestures.”