Egyptians wanted Sharia law, and that’s exactly what they are getting.
(Reuters) – Egypt’s main hardline Islamist party says an IMF loan agreement requires the approval of a body of Muslim scholars under the new constitution and it is considering legal action to make sure the government sticks to the law.
The case could set a marker on the extent to which clerics will have a say over state affairs according to the Islamist-tinged constitution that was signed into law in December following its approval in a referendum.
The Salafist Nour Party says the loan agreement, seen as vital to easing a deep economic crisis, must be approved by a body of senior scholars at Al-Azhar, a religious institution whose new role is embedded in the constitution.
Such a challenge could complicate the Muslim Brotherhood-led administration’s effort to finalize the International Monetary Fund deal that was tentatively agreed last year but shelved following political unrest in Cairo.
Abdullah Badran, head of the Nour Party’s bloc in the upper house of parliament, told Reuters the move was intended to “activate the role of the Senior Scholars’ Authority in all matters pertaining to sharia (Islamic law)”. He said the party was studying its legal options.
The Nour Party believes the IMF agreement must be vetted by the scholars because it includes a loan on which Egypt will pay interest – something that is forbidden under Islamic law.
The constitution states that the opinion of Al-Azhar’s Senior Scholars’ Authority must be sought “on matters pertaining to Islamic sharia”. It does not say whether their opinion is binding on government nor make clear the scope of Al-Azhar’s role.