The second Article of the Egyptian constitution cites that Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is the official language, and the principles of Islamic Sharia law are the main source of legislation. This article has always been a controversial one since its very beginning. However, it was used to make some balance or deals with the Islamists, and at the same time declare that it won’t make a difference to non-Muslims.
Later, the former President Anwar Sadat trying to extend his term, changed this Article to cite that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation, instead of being just one source. Yet, it was declared that principles does not mean the provisions or end banditry like cutting the hand of the thief or stoning the adulterous. Yet, no one has been punished by end banditry since its very beginning.
After the Muslim Brotherhood came to power through the revolution of January 25, 2011, they tried to change the constitution by adding an Article to expand the understanding of Islamic Sharia in the Egyptian constitution to include the provisions and apply the Islamic Law.
It was a big trick to the civil current acknowledged by Sheikh Yasser Borhami, a Salafist leader who was member of the committee, to draft the 2012 Constitution. Additionally, such Article ignored the Shiites and open the door before controversial interpretations for Islamic Sharia including the extreme ones.
This was one of the reasons the revolution of June 30 has erupted in Egypt after one year of the Muslim Brotherhood being in power. The Egyptian people demanded a civil constitution that supports equal citizenship without discrimination. It was normal to have such confrontation between supporters and opponents.
However this Article was excluded from constitution, it is still effective through the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court that explained the Islamic Sharia by the fixed provisions that have no controversial interpretations. Now, we have started over and the end banditry as well as prohibition of building churches are still a possible option according to the constitution and law.
I can see Sheikh Yasser Borhamy making fun of all the Egyptians who demonstrated in June 30 demanding a civil state, as the fact is that Article 219 was not really excluded. Yet, we’re stupidly celebrating!