Egypt's largest newspaper: What's wrong with a state based on shari'a law?

A Sharia-based state, it said, would still respect the rights of minorities. “When Caliph Omar visited Jerusalem, he stepped out of the church to pray, for fear that if he prayed inside Muslims would be tempted to do the same in the future, which may endanger the sanctity of this Christian house of worship,” it said. “Islam doesn’t believe in authority by the mosque. The church may have had political ambitions in Europe, but in Al-Azhar, the grand imam is just a learned scholar, running his own institution and not society at large.” Cairo’s Al-Azhar University is the Sunni Islamic world’s preeminent center of learning…

A similar editorial would have been unthinkable under the three-decade rule of Mubarak or his predecessors Anwar Sadat and Gamal Abdel Nasser, all of whom kept a tight lid on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements. But while the 136-year-old Al-Ahram seems to have abandoned its anti-Islamist line in the post-Mubarak era, the paper’s steady diet of anti-Israel content remains unchanged. The “regional” section of last week’s weekly English edition included the headlines “To Gaza with dignity,” “The Zionist project falters,” “The case for a boycott” and “Children tormented in the name of the law.” The last headline appears above the subheading: “Israeli occupation authorities are imprisoning Palestinian children at will, often on bogus or trumped-up charges, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem.”