Lawyer Sobhi Saleh, Muslim Brotherhood figure and member of the Constituent Assembly in charge of drafting Egypt’s post-revolution constitution, said protests over the article of women rights were exaggerated and insisted the constitution gives women all their rights.
Several Egyptian women rights organizations have for the past few days been staging demonstrations in protest of article 36 of the constitution. According to the controversial article, “men and women are equal, so long as this equality does not violate Islamic laws.”
Women activists found the article manipulative and demanded the removal of the last bit. Adding Islamic laws, they argued, restricts women’s freedoms and is bound to jeopardize any rights they have acquired in the past.
Saleh viewed women’s fury at article 36 as unjustified and explained that the main aim of adding the second part was avoiding articles in international treaties that violate Islamic laws.
“Egypt had previously signed several international treaties that contain articles against Islamic laws like equality between men and women in inheritance, homosexual marriages, and prohibition of polygamy,” he told Al Arabiya.
If the last part of the sentence is not added, Saleh added, Egypt will therefore be obliged to allow practices that are against Islam and this, he said, is not acceptable.
Saleh noted that none of the 100 members of the Constituent Assembly objected to this article and that it is not negotiable.
“Whoever objects to this bit will be objecting to the Islamic faith and wreaking havoc unnecessarily. Those who protest have to know that there is no absolute equality between men and women in Islam and inheritance is an example,” he said.
Saleh said that the final draft of the constitution will be presented to committees of experts in all fields for comments and will be ready by mid November.
“The last step will be a presidential decree that the constitution be put to public referendum,” he said.
Regarding the several lawsuits that call for disbanding the Constituent Assembly, Saleh said that he and other members will go ahead with their “national duty” until a verdict is issued.
“However, I believe that demands for disbanding the assembly are not justified and that the verdict which disbanded the first one was politicized,” he said.