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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid