A conference has been held recently at the American University in Cairo to discuss the differences between a civil state and a religion-based one; a topic that attracts the attention of many people especially at this time of attempting a constitutional reform. As usual, there were different opinions that varied among those who supported the idea of a civil state and those who supported the idea of a establishing a religion-based one.
“We should first explain the concept of a civil state,” Dr. Muhammad Futtūh said, “A civil state means a complete separation between the state and religion in relation to the ruling system. In other words, the Constitution in a civil state is based on man-made laws. However, a religion-based state depends on the returning back to religion when formulating the state’s laws.”
The question now is: why is there such support and tendency towards establishing a religion-based state? Does this tendency aim at reinforcing the relationship between the state’s constitution and the religion of the majority? This seems to be so since those who call for a religion-based state stress the idea that Egypt is an Islamic state.
“I believe that there are some issues where one could not please all the opposing sides and different religious trends,” Dr. Muhammad Futtūh said, “A religion-based state is a very twisted and contradicted formula that would not succeed in mixing between what is civil and what is religious. In time the religious trend will overpower man-made laws; thus, the state becomes a religious state instead of being a civil one.”
“The civil state system is a system that guarantees equality among members of the society no matter how many religions there are in the country,” Dr. Futtūh said.