Ultraconservatives Slow Down Drafting of Egyptian Constitution

Role of Islam causing divisions


A proposal by ultraconservative Salafis to give Egypts main Islamic institution the final say on whether the law of the land adheres to Islamic laws threatens to bring the already painfully slow process of drafting the new constitution to a grinding halt.

The proposal would give the revered Al-Azhar power similar to a supreme court by making it the arbiter of whether a law conforms with the principles of sharia, already cited in the constitution of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak as Egypts "main source" of legislation.

Opponents say the move would only exacerbate Egypts volatile politics and make it harder to heal social tensions in a country where one tenth of the population is Christian.