CAIRO, (Xinhua): Egypt’s Shura Council (upper house of parliament) on Wednesday passed a political rights law after deleting a controversial clause that bans religious slogans in election campaigns, official news agency MENA reported.
The cancellation of the clause triggered a walkout by liberal and Coptic lawmakers, who feared the new law will put them at disadvantage in future elections.
Some opposition parties said in a statement that the discussion at the parliament “violated the constitution and contradicted the principles of a civil state.”
They also rejected as unconstitutional an article that endows the president with absolute power to set election dates without approval of the cabinet.
The main opposition bloc, National Salvation Front, warned in a statement on Wednesday that the government is using the Shura Council to issue laws that serve the interests of only one group, the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is affiliated.
Amr Moussa, former Arab League chief and key figure in the Front, said the law has “dangerous influence,” demanding it be revoked.
Some prominent Islamists also objected the use of religious slogans in election campaigns.
Abdel Moniem Abou el-Foutouh, an Islamist ex-presidential candidate, said on his twitter page that using religion in elections is unacceptable, as it turns religion into a tool to harvest votes.
After the Shura Council session, High Elections Commissions said on Wednesday evening that despite the new regulation, it is still able to ban religious slogans in elections.
The Shura Council also approved an amendment to the law, which stipulates that people exempted from military service can run in legislative elections, unless he has been involved in crimes harming national security or other state interests.
This lowering of the bar raised concerns among liberal parties and opposition, who fear the political detainees during former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, many of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood, could run for parliamentary seats and thus expand the Islamic group’s power in the legislature.