Islamic panel decrees voters must choose candidate who will apply Sharia

A panel of Islamic scholars has issued a fatwa, or religious decree, that would prohibit voting for any presidential candidate who does not intend to apply Sharia.

Muslim voters are obliged to elect a president who plans to apply Islamic law, according to a statement late Monday by the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform.

The commission represents the largest informal gathering of representatives of Islamic groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis and independent preachers.

Commission members include Salafi preachers Mohamed Ismail al-Moqaddem and Yasser Borhamy, as well as Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater. The commission’s website says it also includes doctors, researchers, scientists, teachers and lawyers of various Islamic orientations.

Egypt’s first presidential election since the removal of former President Hosni Mubarak will begin Wednesday.

The 13 candidates include three Islamists: Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy, former Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh and Islamic intellectual Mohamed Selim al-Awa. The three have stressed they want Islamic law as a source of legislation but with varying degrees of emphasis.

The fatwa stipulates that if more than one candidate intends to apply Sharia, voters should pick the one who they think is best for the post.

The commission’s statement said presidential elections should be used by Muslims as a means to apply divine laws.

It warned that failure to apply Sharia would be one of the greatest sins possible.

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