Egypt’s draft constitution threatens religious liberty

Many thanks to Mark Movsesian and Marc DeGirolami for the opportunity to guest blog this month!  There have been many noteworthy developments in  the realm of international religious freedom recently, including troubling news out of Egypt that the new draft constitution may remove religious liberties provided for under prior constitutions.  As reported in Ahram Online, Egypt’s Constituent Assembly has drafted Article 8 such that: 1) the state would no longer be obligated to protect religious freedom; and 2)  religious rights would be subject to limitations based on public order (a provision that could be construed quite broadly to the detriment of religious liberty, as it has been elsewhere).  The Constituent Assembly has itself been the source of much controversy, both because its members were appointed by the People’s Assembly (declared in June by Egypt’s High Constitutional Court to be unconstitutional) and because of broader concerns about its composition (Islamist dominated) and perceived inability to engage citizen concerns about fundamental rights and freedoms.    These challenges for religious freedom in Egypt are consistent with the Pew Research Center’s findings in its Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion report identifying Egypt as a country with very high (and increasing) social hostilities involving religion (i.e., “acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations and social groups [including] mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons and other religion-related intimidation or abuse.”).

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