Egypt Adds Islamic Influence to Constitution ~ No equal rights for women; owning slaves not banned

CAIRO—Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist allies rushed to complete a new constitution with references to Shariah, or Islamic law, setting the stage for a new showdown with secularists, liberals and the country’s judiciary.

Drafters voted on the constitution’s 234 articles, one by one, overnight Thursday, with the head of the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly racing to complete the document before a Supreme Court verdict on Sunday that could dissolve the assembly.

The charter that took shape, Egyptian legal experts said, was almost identical to the 1971 constitution written by former President Anwar Sadat, which underpinned a presidential-led autocracy for four decades.

But unlike Mr. Sadat’s version, the new constitution incorporates mentions of Islamic law that could elevate the role of Islam in Egypt’s public life and government.

In one clause worrying for Egypt’s liberals, the draft assigns the state with the responsibility to “ensure public morality,” a clause that critics said is open to manipulation by Islamists. ….

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