Egypt court delays constitution row case

Lawsuits were filed against the constitutional assembly tasked with writing Egypt’s new constitution.

Egypt President Mohammed Morsi. Picture: AFP.

CAIRO - Egypt's Islamist leaders received a boost on Saturday after a court postponed a hearing that could disband the Islamist-dominated body drafting the country's new constitution, giving it more time to complete its work.

State news agency MENA said the hearing had been postponed until 2 October pending administrative procedures, delaying a decision that has threatened to overshadow Egypt's transition to democracy after an uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak and saw Mohamed Morsi become the country's first Islamist president.

MENA said at least twenty-three lawsuits had been filed against the 100-person constitutional assembly which has been tasked with writing the country's new constitution.

Plaintiffs object both to the way it was formed and the heavy influence of Islamists whose control over parliament gave them a major say in its make-up.

Many liberal politicians, women and Coptic Christians in particular say it does not properly reflect the diversity of Egyptian society.

It is a major lever of power in the post-Mubarak era, deciding how much authority the new president will have and the role of a military that until recently was at the heart of power.

The body is also debating the role of Islam in Egypt's new politics. Non-Islamists have been alarmed by proposals emanating from the current chamber that appear to give the new constitution a more Islamic tone.