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Briefly: Middle East
Sheik proposes bill of rights for Egypt
CAIRO — The head of Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world, put forward a bill of rights on Tuesday upholding freedom of expression and belief ahead of the drafting of Egypt’s new constitution.
The bill, which was in the works for three months, is a bid by Al-Azhar to assert its role as the voice of moderate Islam in the face of growing political power of more conservative Islamic groups in Egypt following the February ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
The conservative Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized political force, and the more radical ultraconservative Salafis have won a majority in the country’s first elected post-Mubarak parliament.
Both call for an Islamic basis for the state, raising worries among Egypt’s liberal and Christian groups that conservative religious teachings will dictate the shape of the new constitution.
In theory, parliament is to be in charge of nominating who will draft the document.
The Al-Azhar document appears aimed at establishing a religious backing for preserving broader rights that liberals and Christians fear conservatives will try to limit.
Al-Azhar’s Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb told reporters the bill of rights - which would preserve freedoms of worship, opinion, scientific research, and art and creative expression - is drafted to be a basis for the country’s new constitution, according to comments published by Egypt’s state news agency.
In a message to Egypt’s increasingly nervous Christian minorities, he said Islamic rulings protect freedom of religion and guarantee equal citizenship rights,
Bombs kill 10, including 3 schoolboys
BAGHDAD — Three schoolboys were among at least 10 people killed in Iraq on Tuesday in the latest in a wave of bomb attacks to hit the country since U.S. troops pulled out.
The bombs exploded in predominantly Sunni areas north of the capital. They followed deadly car-bomb blasts the evening before and pushed the number of Iraqis killed to more 90 in less than a week.
The increase in violence comes as Iraq’s leaders remain locked in a political crisis that is stoking tensions between the Shiite majority in power and the country’s Sunnis, who benefited most from ousted dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule.
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