Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution and the “Crisis” of Constitutional Democracy?

In the wake of the 2011 revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime, an intense site of legal and political contestation was Art. 2 of the Egyptian Constitution and the statement that the principles of the Islamic shari’a are the “main source” of legislation. What is the history of this provision and its normative implications for Egyptian constitutional democracy? In examining recent jurisprudence of the Egyptian Constitutional Court, this paper interrogates a central paradox that on the one hand the shari’a has taken on distinctly secular liberal characteristics and sensibilities under Egyptian law, while on the other the Constitution gives it such extensive, anxiety-inducing, public power. How can both positions be possible in the same constitutional order? The paper argues that Art. 2 should be read neither as an attempt to secularize Islamic law nor subvert secular authority, but rather as a reflection of Egypt’s embeddedness within the problem-space of modern secular power.