Voices From Egypt: ‘What Role Should Religion Play in the New Constitution?’

BY Ghada Mashamoun  September 15, 2011 at 1:25 PM EST

As a new Egyptian government takes shape and a constitution is drafted and adopted, we asked several Egyptians in Cairo what role religion should play.

Shaimaa Khalil
Age 25, Unemployed graduate of Ain Shams University
From: Helwan, Cairo

“While this is a Muslim country, I want the role of religion to have some limits. I don’t want to be forced to wear a headscarf or to not go out after a certain time. My fiancé and I were shocked on July 29th when we saw the big presence of Salafists at the rally in Tahrir Square. As far as the Muslim Brotherhood, I believe they are not interested in what is good for us, the Egyptian people, as much as they are self-interested in gaining power and ruling the country.”

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Amr Mohammed El Galad
Age 29, Self-employed
From: Shubra, Cairo

“I think Egypt should and will eventually become an Islamic state. If the previous regime had implemented the true Sharia that was ordered by God, we would not have been in this dismal state. Sharia brings forth the rule of law and justice for all, Muslims and non-Muslims. I don’t think that we should model the Islamic Sharia of Saudi Arabia or Iran. I respect these countries, but I also believe that in their interpretation is different. I also want to make clear that the Copts (Christians) are our brothers and sisters and we as Muslims want no harm to them. Proof of that was during the entire the revolution, in the absence of state security, no churches were burned. We stood side by side as brothers and sisters in Tahrir Square.”

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Mona Mohammed
Age 39, Unemployed
From: Imbaba, Cairo

“Egypt has an Islamic identity, but I want it to be a secular state. Even the Prophet Mohammed said that, “you have your own religion, and I have mine.” I feel that whatever the Egyptian constitution ends up looking like, I should not represent an extremist point of view. We are struggling financially and nowadays, we as women have to go out into the workforce and work in the public sphere. I don’t want any person or organization to tell me that I cannot do that.”

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Ahmed Hisham
Age 31, Electrical Engineer
From: Helwan, Cairo

“Like many others, I was extremely surprised at the large numbers of Salafis that flowed into Tahrir Square in July. I know that they are not all extremists in thinking. Salafists are wide-ranging, but I don’t want this to be an Islamic state where we have to abide by strict rules. I am Muslim and I know Egypt has and always will have a Muslim identity. My fiancé wears the veil. However, I don’t believe that religion should impose on politics.”

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Ahmed Mohammed
Age 43, Business Manager
Interview in Cairo — would not disclose hometown

“Egypt has Muslims everywhere. I hope that after we get our rights and freedoms from this regime, that this will ultimately be a state ruled by the Islamic Sharia. For example in Saudi Arabia, people will think twice before stealing because they witness the punishment for thievery and such acts, every Friday.”

The NewsHour airs a report on the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday. View all of our coverage from Egypt on the World page and follow us on Twitter.