Islamic televangelist Amr Khalid’s Egypt Party has proposed several amendments to the newly adopted constitution, most of which relate to freedom of belief and gender equality.
The amendments were proposed to President Mohamed Morsy as part of the presidency’s national dialogue, in which the party is participating.
According to the national dialogue’s founding agreement, Morsy is to present these amendments for consideration to the House of Representatives, parliament’s lower house, upon its election.
The party wants to remove the word “society” from Article 10, which states that the state and society must safeguard family values so that extremist groups could not use the constitution to force their opinions on society.
Article 43 which reserves freedom of belief and practice for “heavenly” (Abrahamic) religions only should be changed to allow religious freedoms for adherents of all faiths “so that Muslims in countries where the majority religion is not heavenly are not persecuted in retaliation.”
Khalid’s party is also calling for more guarantees of gender equality in the constitution through adding to new clauses stating: “It is the right of any Egyptian to hold any public office according to their qualifications and career achievements”; and “men and women have equal rights with regards to public positions and responsibilities, and the state must actively work achieve equality between men and women and takes serious steps in reducing the existing inequality.”
Finally, the party wants to amend the articles relating to the Supreme Constitutional Court so that its judges are increased from 11 to 15 and that they serve for a single nine-year non-renewable term.
Two-thirds of seats would be renewed once every three years according to the party’s proposal. The president and speakers of both upper and lower houses of parliament would each nominate an equal number of judges to fill the empty seats then the general assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court would vote on who to appoint.
The nominees would come from other courts and judicial bodies as well as lawyers and legal scholars who had spent more than 20 years on the job. Nominees would not be older than 70 years of age.
Morsy has called on all opposition parties to join in his national dialogue and former Vice President Mahmoud Mekki, who still chairs the sessions, said that all proposed constitutional amendments would be submitted by the president to the House of Representatives in accordance with his constitutional power to submit constitutional amendments to parliament for discussion.
The secular opposition represented in the National Salvation Front has boycotted all sessions of the dialogue citing the lack of a clear agenda and timeframe. They also demand meetings be public.
Several Islamist parties are participating in the dialogue, including the moderate Al-Wasat and Egypt parties.