Country Profile: Egypt

By Jiou Park

Background summary: Legal history survey

Demographics: Egypt has a total population of 86,895,099 as of July 2014, and is the 16th most populous country in the world. 90% of the total population is Muslim, assumed to be predominantly Sunnī. [1] The number of estimated non-Sunnī Muslims, including Aḥmadīs and Shīʿī Muslims vary according to the sources, but hover around 1% of the total population. [2] Christians of various denominations, including the majority Coptic orthodox followed by Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Maronite, and Orthodox comprise 10% of the population.[3]

School of Islamic Law: Sunnī Islam, and in particular, the Ḥanafī school of law is the official school for personal-status law and for issuing fatwās.[4]

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law: According to the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Islam is the official religion of Egypt:[5] Article 2 of Egypt’s 2014 Constitution stipulates that “Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation.” [6]The Constitution is silent on which school of jurisprudence is considered official.

Since the Constitution of 1923, the first constitution of Egypt since the independence of 1919, Article 2 set forth “Islam [as] the religion of the state and Arabic is its official language.” Since, Islam has been the official religion of the state, and this clause has remained constant through numerous amendments to the Egyptian Constitution.[7] The introduction of sharīʿa as a source of legislation was first introduced in Article 2 in the 1971 Constitution, which amended that article to read: “Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language. The principles of Islamic Sharia are a principle source of legislation.”[8] In 1981, the phrasing was again amended to make Islamic law the main source of legislation, as follows: “The principles of Islamic Sharia are the principle source of legislation.”[9]

Note on the 2012 Constitution:

In addition, Article 7 of the constitution affirms the independence and authority of Al-Azhar as the “main authority for religious sciences, and Islamic affairs.”[10]

Legal History Summary:

Egypt was incorporated into the young Muslim empire under the second caliph, ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb in the middle of the 7th century.[11] Egypt was held under the Sunni Umayyad caliphate (661-750) and the ‘Abbasid caliphate (750-1258 CE), followed by the rule of the Fāṭimid dynasty starting from the 10th century until the end of Fāṭimid rule in 1169.[12] The fall of the Fatimid dynasty reverted Egypt to the rule of the Sunnī Ayyūbid dynasty (1169-1250 CE), and then absorbed under the Ottoman Empire in 1300 CE and remained under Ottoman rule until Muhammad Ali’s establishment his dynasty.[13] In 1874, Egypt obtained legal and judicial independence from the Ottoman Empire, and in 1875 judicial reform including the establishment of mixed and national courts.[14] During the years of British dominance until Egypt’s independence in 1919, the Egyptian legal system gradually became more assimilated to the European systems, but maintained a dual track court system consisting of secular and the sharī‘a court.[15] Sharī‘a courts were integrated into the national system in 1956, including the transferal of jurisdiction over family matters.[16]

Currently, Egypt’s legal system is a well-codified civil law system with strong influence from the French Civil Code, as well as Anglo-American influence in the areas of commercial and corporate law.[17] The Egyptian Civil Code of 1948, which widely influenced subsequent codifications in the Arab world, remains the main source of law for most civil cases. Family and personal status law, on the other hand, remain undercodified and strongly influenced by sharī‘a, in particular the Ḥanafī school of jurisprudence, including the requirement that it be followed when the law is silent on a given issue.[18] Although there is no established system of legally binding precedents, previous judicial decisions are considered to have persuasive authority.[19] Due to the enshrinement of sharī‘a principles as the main source of legislation in the Constitution, the Egyptian system is often considered a ‘parallel’ or ‘dual’ system that incorporates both the codified laws as well as sharī‘a principles applied on a largely discretionary basis by individual judges.[20] The fatāwā system, although not considered binding legislations, continues to strongly influence the conduct as well as public opinion of the Egyptian people.

Court System:

Courts of General Jurisdiction:

The Egyptian judiciary functions on the basis of a three-tiered system. Courts of general jurisdiction, which deal with civil, criminal, commercial, contractual, insurance, intellectual and real property disputes and personal status matters are organized in the following three tiers: Courts of the First Degree (Mahkmat El Daragah El Aoulah), the Appellate Court (Mahkmat El Esti’anaf), and the Court of Cassation (Mahkmat El Naqd). The jurisdictions of these courts are determined by the severity of the issue and the amount in controversy.[21]

The Courts of the First Degree, consisting of one judge, have jurisdiction over misdemeanors and claims under EG£5000.[22] The seven Courts of Appeal are located in major Egyptian cities and consists of three judges.[23] The Courts of Appeal have primary jurisdiction over capital crimes, and reviews decisions made by the Courts of the First Degree.[24] The Court of Cassation, located in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, is the highest court in the ordinary court system.[25] The Court of Cassation consists of criminal and civil sections, and a defendant or plaintiff may only appeal to the Court of Cassation if a breach of law is the basis of the appeal.[26]

Courts of Special Jurisdiction

In addition to the three-tiered courts of general jurisdiction, the Egyptian judiciary includes the following courts of specialized jurisdiction: the Supreme Constitutional Court (El Mahkmah El Dostouriah El Aolyah), Family Courts (Mahkmat El Ausrah), Military Courts (El Mahakm El Askariyah), Economic Courts (El Mahkmat El Eqtsadyah), Environmental Courts (El Mahkamt El Beaeyah), and Council of State (Administrative Judicial Court) (Mahkmah Al Qda’a El Edari).[27] In particular, the Supreme Constitutional Court, established in 1969, is the highest court of Egypt and has the authority to review the constitutionality of laws and the jurisdiction of courts, among other things.[28]

Law/Case Reporting System: Legislations and Judicial Decision by the Supreme Constitutional Court are accessible through the respective Official Gazette, and the Website of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as mandated by Articles 195 and 225 of the Constitution.[29] In addition, the Court of Cassation issues a yearly report of its decisions, entitled “Rulings and Principles of the Court of Cassation.”[30] The decisions by lower courts, although again, constitutionally mandated to be publicly accessible, do not have easily accessible publication systems. 

  • Egyptian Legislation

   – Egyptian Gazette .


  • East Laws.


  • The Middle East Library for Economic Services.


  • LADIS : Legislation And Development Information Systems .


  • Egypts Information Portal ( IDSC). 

The Constitutional status of Islamic law

  • The Text of the Constitution:
  • Relevant Constitutional Clauses relating to Islam or Islamic Law
  • Preamble:

Egypt is the cradle of religions and the banner of glory of the revealed religions.

On its land, Moses grew up, the light of God appeared, and the message descended on Mount Sinai.

On its land, Egyptians welcomed Virgin Mary and her baby and offered up thousands of martyrs in defense of the Church of Jesus.

When the Seal of the Messengers Mohamed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) was sent to all mankind to perfect the sublime morals, our hearts and minds were opened to the light of Islam. We were the best soldiers on Earth to fight for the cause of God, and we disseminated the message of truth and religious sciences across the world.

 […]We are drafting a Constitution that affirms that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the principle source of legislation, and that the reference for interpretation thereof is the relevant texts in the collected rulings of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

  • Article 1. Nature of the Republic
    The Arab Republic of Egypt is a sovereign state, united and indivisible, where nothing is dispensable, and its system is democratic republic based on citizenship and the rule of law.
    Egypt is part of the Arab nation and enhances its integration and unity. It is part of the Muslim world, belongs to the African continent, is proud of its Asian dimension, and contributes to building human civilization.
  • Article 2. Islam, Principles of Islamic Sharia:
    Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Islamic Sharia are the principle source of legislation.
  • Article 3. Christian and Jewish Religious Affairs:
    The principles of the laws of Egyptian Christians and Jews are the main course of laws regulating their personal status, religious affairs, and selection of spiritual leaders.
  • Article 7. Al-Azhar
    Al-Azhar is an independent scientific Islamic institution, with exclusive competence over its own affairs. It is the main authority for religious sciences, and Islamic affairs. It is responsible for preaching Islam and disseminating the religious sciences and the Arabic language in Egypt and the world.
    The state shall provide enough financial allocations to achieve its purposes.
    Al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh is independent and cannot be dismissed. The method of appointing the Grand Sheikh from among the members of the Council of Senior Scholars is to be determined by law.
  • Relevant Constitutional Clauses relating to Criminal Law
  • Article 54. Personal Freedom
    Personal freedom is a natural right which is safeguarded and cannot be infringed upon. Except in cases of in flagrante delicto, citizens may only be apprehended, searched, arrested, or have their freedoms restricted by a causal judicial warrant necessitated by an investigation.
    All those whose freedoms have been restricted shall be immediately informed of the causes therefor, notified of their rights in writing, be allowed to immediately contact their family and lawyer, and be brought before the investigating authority within twenty-four hours of their freedoms having been restricted.
    Questioning of the person may only begin once his lawyer is present. If he has no lawyer, a lawyer will be appointed for him. Those with disabilities shall be provided all necessary aid, according to procedures stipulated in the law.
    Those who have their freedom restricted and others possess the right of recourse before the judiciary. Judgment must be rendered within a week from such recourse, otherwise the petitioner shall be immediately released.
    The law shall regulate preventive detention, its duration, causes, and which cases are eligible for compensation that the state shall discharge for preventative detention or for execution of a penalty that had been executed by virtue of a judgment that is overruled by a final judgment.
    In all cases, the accused may be brought to criminal trial for crimes that he may be detained for only in the presence of an authorized or appointed lawyer.
  • Article 55. Due Process
    All those who are apprehended, detained or have their freedom restricted shall be treated in a way that preserves their dignity. They may not be tortured, terrorized, or coerced. They may not be physically or mentally harmed, or arrested and confined in designated locations that are appropriate according to humanitarian and health standards. The state shall provide means of access for those with disabilities.
    Any violation of the above is a crime and the perpetrator shall be punished under the law.
    The accused possesses the right to remain silent. Any statement that is proven to have been given by the detainee under pressure of any of that which is stated above, or the threat of such, shall be considered null and void.
  • Article 95. Punishment
    Penalties are personal. Crimes and penalties may only be based on the law, and penalties may only be inflicted by a judicial ruling. Penalties may only be inflicted for acts committed subsequent to the date on which the law enters into effect.
  • Article 96. Due Process
    The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair court of law, which provides guarantees for him to defend himself.
    The law shall regulate the appeal of felony sentences.
    The state shall provide protection to the victims, witnesses, accused and informants as necessary and in accordance with the law. 
  • Article 97. Right to Litigate
    Litigation is a safeguarded right guaranteed to all. The state shall bring together the litigating parties, and work towards speedy judgment in cases. It is forbidden to grant any act or administrative decision immunity from judicial oversight. Individuals may only be tried before their natural judge. Extraordinary courts are forbidden. 
  • Article 98. Right to Defense
    The right of defense either in person or by proxy is guaranteed. The independence of lawyers and the protection of their rights are ensured as a guarantee for the right of defense.
    For those who are financially incapable, the law guarantees the means to resort to justice and defend their rights.
  • Relevant Constitutional Clauses relating to Family Law 
  • Article 10. Family as the Basis of Society
    Family is the basis of society and is based on religion, morality, and patriotism. The state protects its cohesion and stability, and the consolidation of its values.
  • Article 11. The Place of Women, Motherhood and Childhood
    The state commits to achieving equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
    The state commits to taking the necessary measures to ensure appropriate representation of women in the houses of parliament, in the manner specified by law. It grants women the right to hold public posts and high management posts in the state, and to appointment in judicial bodies and entities without discrimination.
    The state commits to the protection of women against all forms of violence, and ensures women empowerment to reconcile the duties of a woman toward her family and her work requirements.
    The state ensures care and protection and care for motherhood and childhood, and for breadwinning, and elderly women, and women most in need.
  • Relevant Constitutional Clauses relating to Commercial/Property Law
  • Article 32. Natural Resources
    Natural resources belong to the people. The state commits to preserving such resources, to their sound exploitation, to preventing their depletion, and to take into consideration the rights of future generations to them.
    The state commits to making the best use of renewable energy resources, motivating investment, and encouraging relevant scientific research. The state works on encouraging the manufacture of raw materials, and increasing their added value according to economic feasibility.
    Disposing of the state’s public property is forbidden. Granting the right to exploit natural resources or a concession to a public utility shall take place by law for a period not exceeding 30 years.
    Granting the right to exploit quarries and small mines and salterns, or granting a concession to a public utility shall take place for a period not exceeding 30 years based on a law.

The law sets the provisions for disposing of state private property, and the rules and procedures regulating such.

  • Article 33. Ownership
    The state protects ownership, which is three types: Public ownership, private ownership, and cooperative ownership.
  • Article 34. Public Property
    Public property is inviolable and may not be infringed upon. It is the duty of every citizen to protect it in accordance with the law.
  • Article 35. Private Property
    Private property is protected. The right to inherit property is guaranteed. Private property may not be sequestrated except in cases specified by law, and by a court order. Ownership of property may not be confiscated except for the public good and with just compensation that is paid in advance as per the law.
  • Article 37. Cooperative Property
    Cooperative property is protected. The state cares for cooperatives, and the law guarantees its protection and support, and ensures its independence.
    It cannot be dissolved, nor its boards, except by court order. 
  • Article 40. Confiscation of Property
    Public confiscation of property is prohibited.
    Private confiscation is prohibited except based on a court judgment. 
  • Relevant Constitutional Clauses relating to Rights Clauses 
  • Article 3. Christian and Jewish Religious Affairs

The principles of the laws of Egyptian Christians and Jews are the main source of laws regulating their personal status, religious affairs, and selection of spiritual leaders.

  • Article 9. Equal Opportunity

The state ensures equal opportunity for all citizens without discrimination.

  • Article 12. Right to Work, Forced Labor
    Work is a right, a duty, and an honor guaranteed by the state. There can be no forced labor except in accordance with the law and for the purpose of performing a public service for a defined period of time and in return for a fair wage, without prejudice to the basic rights of those assigned to the work. 
  • Article 13. Worker Rights
    The state commits to protecting worker rights, and works on building balanced work relationships between the two sides of the production process. It ensures means for collective negotiations and works on protecting workers against the risks of work, ensures that conditions for professional security, safety and health are met, and prohibits arbitrary dismissal. All the foregoing is as organized by law.
  • Article 15. Right to Strike
    Striking peacefully is a right which is organized by law.
  • Article 17. Social Security Services
    The state provides social security services.
    All citizens who have no access to the social security system have the right to social security to ensure a decent life, if they are unable to support themselves and their families in the event of incapacity to work, old age or unemployment.
    The state works to provide appropriate pensions to small farmers, agricultural workers, hunters and informal labor in accordance with the law.
    Insurance and pension funds are private and enjoy all forms of protection afforded to public funds. Together with their returns, they are a right of their beneficiaries. They shall be invested in a safe manner and managed by an independent entity, in accordance with the law.
    The state guarantees funds for insurance and pensions.
  • Article 18. Health Care
    Every citizen is entitled to health and to comprehensive health care with quality criteria. The state guarantees to maintain and support public health facilities that provide health services to the people, and work on enhancing their efficiency and their fair geographical distribution.
    The state commits to allocate a percentage of government expenditure that is no less than 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to health. The percentage will gradually increase to reach global rates.
    The state commits to the establishment of a comprehensive health care system for all Egyptians covering all diseases. The contribution of citizens to its subscriptions or their exemption therefrom is based on their income rates.
    Denying any form of medical treatment to any human in emergency or life-threatening situations is a crime.
    The state commits to improving the conditions of physicians, nursing staff, and health sector workers, and achieving equity for them.
    All health facilities and health related products, materials, and health-related means of advertisement are subject to state oversight. The state encourages the participation of the private and public sectors in providing health care services as per the law. 
  • Article 19. Education
    Every citizen has the right to education with the aim of building the Egyptian character, maintaining national identity, planting the roots of scientific thinking, developing talents, promoting innovation and establishing civilizational and spiritual values and the concepts of citizenship, tolerance and non- discrimination. The state commits to uphold its aims in education curricula and methods, and to provide education in accordance with global quality criteria.
    Education is obligatory until the end of the secondary stage or its equivalent. The state grants free education in different stages in state educational institutions as per the law.
    The state commits to allocating a percentage of government spending that is no less than 4% of the GDP for education. It will gradually increase this until it reaches global rates.
    The state oversees education to ensure that all public and private schools and institutes abide by its educational policies.
  • Article 46. Environment
    Every individual has the right to live in a healthy, sound and balanced environment. Its protection is a national duty. The state is committed to taking the necessary measures to preserve it, avoid harming it, rationally use its natural resources to ensure that sustainable development is achieved, and guarantee the rights of future generations thereto. 
  • Article 48. Right to Culture
    Culture is a right of every citizen that is guaranteed by the state. The state is committed to support it and provide all types of cultural materials to the different groups of people without discrimination based on financial capacity, geographical location, or anything else. The state gives special attention to remote areas and the groups most in need.
    The state encourages translation from and to Arabic.
  • Article 51. Human Dignity
    Dignity is a right for every person that may not be infringed upon. The state shall respect, guarantee and protect it.
  • Article 53. Equality in Public Rights and Duties
    Citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason.
    Discrimination and incitement to hate are crimes punishable by law.
    The state shall take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination, and the law shall regulate the establishment of an independent commission for this purpose.
  • Article 57. Private Life
    Private life is inviolable, safeguarded and may not be infringed upon.
    Telegraph, postal, and electronic correspondence, telephone calls, and other forms of communication are inviolable, their confidentiality is guaranteed and they may only be confiscated, examined or monitored by causal judicial order, for a limited period of time, and in cases specified by the law.
    The state shall protect the rights of citizens to use all forms of public means of communication, which may not be arbitrarily disrupted, stopped or withheld from citizens, as regulated by the law.
  • Article 58. Inviolability of Homes
    Homes are inviolable. Except in cases of danger, or if a call for help is made, they may not be entered, searched, monitored or wiretapped except by causal judicial warrant specifying the place, time and purpose thereof. All of the above is to be conducted in cases specified by the law, and in the manner prescribed. Upon entering or searching homes, those inside shall be notified and informed of the warrant issued in this regard. 
  • Article 59. Right to Safety
    Every person has the right to a secure life. The state shall provide security and reassurance for citizens, and all those residing within its territory. 
  • Article 60. Inviolability of the Human Body
    The human body is inviolable. Any assault, defilement or mutilation thereof is a crime punishable by law. Organ trafficking is forbidden, and no medical or scientific experiment may be performed thereon without the documented free consent of the subject, according to the established principles of the medical field as regulated by law.
  • Article 61. Tissue and Organ Donation
    Donation of tissues and organs is a gift of life. Every human has the right to donate his body organs during his lifetime or after his death by virtue of a documented consent or will. The state commits to the establishment of a mechanism to regulate the rules for organ donation and transplant in accordance with the law. 
  • Article 62. Freedom of Movement
    Freedom of movement, residence and emigration is guaranteed.
    No citizen may be expelled from state territory or banned from returning thereto.
    No citizen may be banned from leaving state territory placed under house arrest or banned from residing in a certain area except by a causal judicial order for a specified period of time, and in cases specified by the law. 
  • Article 64. Freedom of Belief
    Freedom of belief is absolute.
    The freedom of practicing religious rituals and establishing places of worship for the followers of revealed religions is a right organized by law.
  • Article 65. Freedom of Thought
    Freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed.
    All individuals have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, imagery, or any other means of expression and publication. 
  • Article 66. Freedom of Research
    Freedom of scientific research is guaranteed. The state shall sponsor researchers and inventors and protect and work to apply their innovations. 
  • Article 67. Artistic and Literary Creation
    Freedom of artistic and literary creation is guaranteed. The state shall undertake to promote art and literature, sponsor creators and protect their creations, and provide the necessary means of encouragement to achieve this end.
    No lawsuits may be initiated or filed to suspend or confiscate any artistic, literary, or intellectual work, or against their creators except through the public prosecution. No punishments of custodial sanction may be imposed for crimes committed because of the public nature of the artistic, literal or intellectual product. The law shall specify the penalties for crimes related to the incitement of violence, discrimination between citizens, or impugning the honor of individuals.
    In such cases, the court may force the sentenced to pay punitive compensation to the party aggrieved by the crime, in addition to the original compensations due to him for the damages it caused him. All the foregoing takes place in accordance with the law.
  • Article 68. Access to Information and Official Documents
    Information, data, statistics and official documents are owned by the people. Disclosure thereof from various sources is a right guaranteed by the state to all citizens. The state shall provide and make them available to citizens with transparency. The law shall organize rules for obtaining such, rules of availability and confidentiality, rules for depositing and preserving such, and lodging complaints against refusals to grant access thereto. The law shall specify penalties for withholding information or deliberately providing false information.
    State institutions shall deposit official documents with the National Library and Archives once they are no longer in use. They shall also protect them, secure them from loss or damage, and restore and digitize them using all modern means and instruments, as per the law.
  • Article 70. Freedom of the Press
    Freedom of press and printing, along with paper, visual, audio and digital distribution is guaranteed. Egyptians — whether natural or legal persons, public or private — have the right to own and issue newspapers and establish visual, audio and digital media outlets.
    Newspapers may be issued once notification is given as regulated by law. The law shall regulate ownership and establishment procedures for visual and radio broadcast stations in addition to online newspapers.
  • Article 73. Freedom of House
    Citizens have the right to organize public meetings, marches, demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protest, while not carrying weapons of any type, upon providing notification as regulated by law.
    The right to peaceful, private meetings is guaranteed, without the need for prior notification. Security forces may not attend, monitor or eavesdrop on such gatherings.
  • Article 74. Freedom to Form Political Parties
    Citizens have the right to form political parties by notification as regulated by the law. No political activity may be exercised or political parties formed on the basis of religion, or discrimination based on sex, origin, sect or geographic location, nor may any activity be practiced that is hostile to democracy, secretive, or which possesses a military or quasi-military nature.
    Parties may only dissolved by a judicial ruling.
  • Article 75. Right to Establish Associations
    Citizens have the right to form non-governmental organizations and institutions on a democratic basis, which shall acquire legal personality upon notification.
    They shall be allowed to engage in activities freely. Administrative agencies shall not interfere in the affairs of such organizations, dissolve them, their board of directors, or their board of trustees except by a judicial ruling.
    The establishment or continuation of non-governmental organizations and institutions whose structure and activities are operated and conducted in secret, or which possess a military or quasi-military character are forbidden, as regulated by law. 
  • Article 76. Right to Form Syndicates
    The establishment of federations and syndicates on a democratic basis is a right guaranteed by law. Such federations and syndicates will possess legal personality, be able to practice their activities freely, contribute to improving the skills of its members, defend their rights and protect their interests.
    The state guarantees the independence of all federations and syndicates. The boards of directors thereof may only dissolved by a judicial ruling.
    Syndicates may not be established within governmental bodies.
  • Article 78. Housing
    The state guarantees citizens the right to decent, safe and healthy housing, in a way that preserves human dignity and achieves social justice.
    The state shall draft a national housing plan that upholds environmental particularity, and guarantees the contribution of personal and collaborative initiatives in its implementation. The state shall also regulate the use of state lands and provide them with basic facilities, as part of a comprehensive urban planning framework for cities and villages and a population distribution strategy. This must be done in a way that serves the public interest, improves the quality of life for citizens and preserves the rights of future generations.
    The state shall draft a comprehensive, national plan to address the problem of informal areas that includes providing infrastructure and facilities and improving quality of life and public health. The state shall also guarantee the provision of necessary resources to implement the plan within a specified time frame. 
  • Article 79. Food
    Each citizen has the right to healthy, sufficient amounts of food and clean water. The state shall provide food resources to all citizens. It also ensures food sovereignty in a sustainable manner, and guarantees the protection of agricultural biological diversity and types of local plants to preserve the rights of generations.
  • Article 80. Rights of the Child
    A child is considered to be anyone who has not reached 18 years of age. Children have the right to be named and possess identification papers, have access to free compulsory vaccinations, health and family care or an alternative, basic nutrition, safe shelter, religious education, and emotional and cognitive development.
    The state guarantees the rights of children who have disabilities, and ensures their rehabilitation and incorporation into society.

The state shall care for children and protect them from all forms of violence, abuse, mistreatment and commercial and sexual exploitation.
Every child is entitled to early education in a childhood center until the age of six. It is prohibited to employ children before they reach the age of having completed their primary education, and it is prohibited to employ them in jobs that expose them to risk.
The state shall establish a judicial system for child victims and witnesses. No child may be held criminally responsible or detained except in accordance with the law and the time frame specified therein. Legal aid shall be provided to children, and they shall be detained in appropriate locations separate from adult detention centers.
The state shall work to achieve children’s best interest in all measures taken with regards to them. 

  • Article 81. Rights of the Disabled
    The state shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and education rights of dwarves and people with disabilities. The state shall provide work opportunities for such individuals, and allocate a percentage of these opportunities to them, in addition to equipping public utilities and their surrounding environment. The state guarantees their right to exercise political rights, and their integration with other citizens in order to achieve the principles of equality, justice and equal opportunities. 
  • Article 82. Youth
    The state guarantees the care of youth and young children, in addition to helping them discover their talents and developing their cultural, scientific, psychological, creative and physical abilities, encouraging them to engage in group and volunteer activity and enabling them to take part in public life. 
  • Article 83. The Elderly
    The state shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural and entertainment rights of the elderly, provide them with appropriate pensions to ensure them a decent standard of living, and empower them to participate in public life. The state shall take into account the needs of the elderly while planning public utilities. It also encourages civil society organizations to participate in caring for the elderly.
    All the foregoing takes place as organized by law. 
  • Article 84. Sports
    The state guarantees the right of everyone to practice physical sports. State institutions and society shall work to discover and sponsor gifted athletes and take necessary measures to encourage the practice of sport.
    The law shall regulate the affairs of sports and civil sports bodies in accordance with international standards, and how to settle sporting disputes.
  • Article 85. Right to Address Public Authorities
    Each individual has the right to address public authorities in writing and in signature. No address shall be made in the name of groups except for legal persons.
  • Article 87. Citizen Participation in Public Life
    The participation of citizens in public life is a national duty. Every citizen has the right to vote, run in elections, and express their opinion in referendums. The law shall regulate the exercise of these rights. Performance of these duties may be exempted in cases specified by the law.
    The state shall enter the name of every citizen in the voter registration database without request from the citizen himself, once the citizen meets voting requirements. The state shall also purge this database periodically in accordance with the law. The state guarantees the safety, neutrality and fairness of referendum and election procedures. The use of public funds, government agencies, public facilities, places of worship, business sector establishments and non-governmental organizations and institutions for political purposes and electioneering is forbidden.
  • Article 92. Limitations Clause
    Rights and freedoms of individual citizens may not be suspended or reduced.
    No law that regulates the exercise of rights and freedoms may restrict them in such a way as infringes upon their essence and foundation. 

Primary sources of law: Notable legislation, cases, fatwās related to Islamic law

Notable legislation:

criminal code

Arabic, English

civil code

Arabic, English

personal status law


Notable cases:

o   1966 hisba case, Court of Cassation (procedural)

o   1985 interpretation of Art 2 (status of sharī‘a as source of legislation)

o   1993 interpretation of Art 2 (status of sharī‘a as source of legislation)

o   Youssef Chahine (blasphemy)
In 1994, Youssef Chahine was accused of blasphemy for his film, the Emigrant (Al-Mohager). The film passed through the censorship authorities and was successfully filmed in Egyptian cinema until a lawsuit caused it to be temporarily banned. In the first instance, the judge applied sharī‘a and issued a ban for the film, whereas the court of the second instance was allowed to be shown based on the Civil Code.

o   Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (apostasy)
In 1995 and in its appeal in 1996, the court found that Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd committed apostasy through his scholarship asserting that each generation of Muslims understand the Qur’ān in light of his own experience and thus are able to grasp new meanings. As a result of the apostasy ruling, the Court also found that his marriage with his wife, a Muslim, was no longer valid.

Notable Fatwās:

  • General information:

Dar Al-Iftā Al-Missriyyah, a branch of the Justice Department, maintains a Fatwa Council, which issues fatāwā upon requests. The Council works under the supervision of the Grand Muftī of Egypt. Dar Al-Iftā maintains a website which accepts and disseminates fatāwā in English, French, German, Russian, Turkish, Urdu, and Malay in addition to Arabic.

  • Fatāwā produced by Dar al Iftā can be accessed at
  • Notable Fatwās
    • Al-Azhar Fatwā on Interest (2002)

Fatwā on the permissibility of pre-determined fixed bank interests.

English text Arabic text

  • Al-Azhar Fatwā on Apostasy (1978)
  • Al-Azhar Fatwā on Shiism (1959)

Fatwā declaring that a Muslim is not required to follow a particular school, and that the Ja’afarī school is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow.

English and Arabic texts 

International agreements[31] (listed in order of ratification)

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):
  • Voted in favor of the declaration.[32]
  • International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD):
  • Signature: 1966
  • Ratification/Accession: 1967
  • Entry into force: 1969
  • Declaration:
    “The United Arab Republic does not consider itself bound by the provisions of article 22 of the Convention, under which any dispute between two or more States Parties with respect to the interpretation or application of the Convention is, at the request of any of the parties to the dispute, to be referred to the International Court of Justice for decision, and it states that, in each individual case, the consent of all parties to such a dispute is necessary for referring the dispute to the International Court of Justice.”
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):
  • Signature: 1980
  • Ratification/Accession: 1981
    • Reservations made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification:
      “[…..] In respect of article 16 Reservation to the text of article 16 concerning the equality of men and women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations during the marriage and upon its dissolution, without prejudice to the Islamic Sharia’s provisions whereby women are accorded rights equivalent to those of their spouses so as to ensure a just balance between them. This is out of respect for the sacrosanct nature of the firm religious beliefs which govern marital relations in Egypt and which may not be called in question and in view of the fact that one of the most important bases of these relations is an equivalency of rights and duties so as to ensure complementary which guarantees true equality between the spouses. The provisions of the Sharia lay down that the husband shall pay bridal money to the wife and maintain her fully and shall also make a payment to her upon divorce, whereas the wife retains full rights over her property and is not obliged to spend anything on her keep. The Sharia therefore restricts the wife’s rights to divorce by making it contingent on a judge’s ruling, whereas no such restriction is laid down in the case of the husband. In respect of article 29 The Egyptian delegation also maintains the reservation contained in article 29, paragraph 2, concerning the right of a State signatory to the Convention to declare that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph 1 of that article concerning the submission to an arbitral body of any dispute which may arise between States concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. This is in order to avoid being bound by the system of arbitration in this field. Reservation made upon ratification: General reservation on article 2 The Arab Republic of Egypt is willing to comply with the content of this article, provided that such compliance does not run counter to the Islamic Sharia. Reservation upon signature: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is making reservation to the articles and provisions which may be contrary to the Islamic sharīʽa, and preserves the right to make such particular declaration, upon its ratification.”
  • Did not sign the Optional Protocol.
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
  • Signature: 1967
  • Ratification/Accession: 1982
  • Declaration: “[…] Taking into consideration the provisions of the Islamic Sharia and the fact that they do not conflict with the text annexed to the instrument, we accept, support and ratify it […] .”
  • Did not sign the Optional Protocol and Second Optional Protocol (Death Penalty)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR):
    • Signature: 1967
    • Ratification/Accession: 1982
    • Declaration: “[…] Taking into consideration the provisions of the Islamic Sharia and the fact that they do not conflict with the text annexed to the instrument, we accept, support and ratify it […] .”
    • Did not sign the Optional Protocol
  • Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT):
    • Signature: N/A
    • Ratification/Accession: 1986
    • Entry into force: 1987
    • Did not sign the Optional Protocol 
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC):
  • Signature: 1990
  • Ratification/Accession: 1990
  • Optional Protocol (Armed Conflict)
    • Signature: N/A
    • Ratification/Accession 2007
    • Declaration:
      The Arab Republic of Egypt hereby declares that in accordance with its current laws the minimum age for conscription into the armed forces of Egypt is 18 years and the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the armed forces is 16 years. The Arab Republic of Egypt is committed to ensuring that voluntary recruitment is genuine and entirely willing, with the informed consent of the parents or legal guardians after the volunteers have been fully informed of the duties included in such voluntary military service and based on reliable evidence of the age of volunteers.
  • Second Optional Protocol (Sale, Prostitution and Pornography)
    • Signature: N/A
    • Ratification/Accession: 2002
  • Did not sign the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure
  • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Worers and Members of their Families (ICRMW):
  • Signature: N/A
  • Ratification/Accession: 1993
  • Entry into force: 2003
  • Reservations:

Concerning article 4: For the purposes of the present Convention the term `members of the family’ refers to persons married to migrant workers or having with them a relationship that, according to applicable law, produces effects equivalent to marriage, as well as their dependent children and other dependent persons who are recognized as members of the family by applicable legislation or applicable bilateral or multilateral agreements between the States concerned. Concerning article 18, paragraph 6: When a migrant worker or a member of his or her family has, by a final decision, been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his or her conviction has been reversed or he or she has been pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to law, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the unknown fact in time is wholly or partially attributable to that person.

  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD):
    • Signature: 2007
    • Ratification/Accession: 2008
    • Interpretative declaration made upon signature: The Arab Republic of Egypt declares that its interpretation of article 12 of the International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which deals with the recognition of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others before the law, with regard to the concept of legal capacity dealt with in paragraph 2 of the said article, is that persons with disabilities enjoy the capacity to acquire rights and assume legal responsibility (‘ahliyyat al-wujūb) but not the capacity to perform (‘ahliyyat al-‘adā’), under Egyptian law.
    • Did not sign Optional Protocol
  • Did not sign the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED)

Short Bibliography


[1] See Egypt, CIA World Factbook, (Jun. 22, 2014),

[2] See Cam McGrath. “Spring Brings Worse for Shias,” Inter Press News Service Agency (Apr. 26, 2013),; Emanuelle Degli Espoti, “The plight of Egypt’s forgotten Shia minority,” NewStatesma, (Jul. 3, 2012),

[3] See Egypt, CIA World Factbook, (Jun. 22, 2014),

[4] See Izan Hussin, Robert Gleave, and Bernard Haykel, Schools of Jurisprudence, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam and Politics.

[5] The constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt [2014], art. 2.

[6] See The constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt [2014], preamble, art. 2.

[7] Islam and the Constitution, Islamopedia Online, (last visited Mar. 11, 2015).

[8] The constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt [1971], art. 2.

[9] The constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt [1980], art. 2.

[10] The constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt [2014], art. 7.

[11] Raymond William Baker, Egypt, Oxford Islamic Studies Online,

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim, Egypt, Arab Republic of, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW,

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Egypt, Islamopedia Online,

[18] Id.

[19] Mohammed S.E. Abdel Wahab, An Overview of the Egyptian Legal System and Legal Research, GlobalLex,

[20] See Karim El-Gawhary, Shari’a of Civil Code? Egypt’s Parallel Legal Systems, Middle East Research and Information,

[21] Legal Research Guide: Egypt, Library of Congress,

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.; EBRD, Commercial Laws of Egypt and Assessment by the EBRD (Oct. 2012),

[27] Legal Research Guide: Egypt, Library of Congress,

[28] Id.

[29] The constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt [2014], art. 195, 225 (include full texts).

[30] Legal Research Guide: Egypt, Library of Congress,

[31] For the status of all UN human rights treaties in different countries see:

[32]  “Yearbook of the United Nations 1948–1949 p 535”. Retrieved 24 July 2014.

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