Egypt's draft constitution raises concerns

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CAIRO -- An Islamist-dominated panel is voting on Egypt's draft constitution, the country's first charter after the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The draft largely reflects the conservative vision of the Islamists, with articles that rights activists, liberals and Christians fear will lead to restrictions on the rights of women and minorities and civil liberties in general.

Omissions of certain articles, such as bans on slavery or promises to adhere to international rights treaties, were equally worrying to critics of the draft, who pulled out of the panel before the vote.

Some disputed articles:

The draft says the "principles of Islamic law" will be the basis of law. A separate new article seeks to define "principles" by pointing to particular theological doctrines and their rules. That could give Islamists the tool for insisting on stricter implementation of Shariah law.

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An article states that Egypt's most respected Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, must be consulted on any matters related to Shariah, a measure critics fear will lead to oversight of legislation by clerics.

An article stresses the state will protect "the true nature of the Egyptian family . . . and promote its morals and values," vague phrasing that suggests state control over the contents of such arts forms as books and films.

No article specifically establishes equality between men and women. -- AP

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