Nation still conflicted
Egypt is still conflicted Reuters

Voters in Egypt will go to hell if they back a new constitution that fails to set in stone fundamentalist Islamic law, a top politician has claimed.

Adel Afifi, the leader of the Al-Asala party, delivered the warning on his Facebook page ahead of a referendum expected before the end of the year.

"Support God and reject the constitution," announced Afifi. He claimed that voting in favour of the draft constitution was committing a sin, for which voters would be "casting themselves into hell".

Failing to support sharia law in Egypt would make a citizen an apostate, insisted Afifi.

Under strict sharia law, apostasy is often punishable by death by stoning where the victim is buried up to their neck in sand and then pelted with rocks.

Advocates for sharia law are angry about the phrasing of the new constitution, which they claim does not lay enough emphasis on Islamic law.

Hardliners in the Al-Asala party want to delete the phrase "principles" of Sharia law and replace it with "rulings". They said they want a draft constitution that does not "violate God's law".

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood party planned to stay away from a demonstration calling for the constitution to be rewritten along religious lines, according to local reports.

Creating a founding mandate for the new Egypt in the wake of the revolution that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak is proving difficult. As well as objections from powerful religious factions, secularists have also expressed alarm. They have opposed clauses that appeared to place limitations on women.