News / Middle East

Egypt's Islamists Say Clerics Must Approve IMF Loan

FILE - Egyptians count money at a currency exchange office in downtown Cairo, Jan. 2, 2013. FILE - Egyptians count money at a currency exchange office in downtown Cairo, Jan. 2, 2013.
x
FILE - Egyptians count money at a currency exchange office in downtown Cairo, Jan. 2, 2013.
FILE - Egyptians count money at a currency exchange office in downtown Cairo, Jan. 2, 2013.
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 the government nor make clear the scope of Al-Azhar's role.
       
The article is one of several written into the constitution by the Islamist-dominated committee that finalised the document in December, fast-tracking it into law despite the objections of liberals, leftists, feminists and Christians, among others.
       
The party has previously signalled it would not oppose such a loan on principle, citing arguments that allow Muslims flexibility in interpreting Islamic law when they have no alternative or face severe conditions.
       
The interest on any IMF loan is expected to be around 1.1 percent, far below market rates.
       
Badran said the party's main concern was to make the government apply the new constitution. "There are many reasons which must be researched for either taking the loan or not,'' he said.
       
"Our request is that the opinion of the Senior Scholars' Association be taken, on this agreement or other agreements [related to sharia],'' he said.
       
The government has said IMF negotiators are due in Cairo soon to complete talks on the loan agreement, which would require Egypt to agree to a set of economic reforms including tax increases and cuts in subsidy spending.
       
Many economists, however, believe final ratification of the agreement could be pushed back to mid-year as the politicians try to avoid upsetting voters ahead of parliamentary elections due in April.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid