Cairo: Two weeks after starting the task of revising Egypt’s contentious constitution, a commission dominated by liberals and leftists, is grappling with the question: Should the resultant output be an amended or new charter?

“The amendments already introduced into the document confirm that the final product will be a new constitution,” said Mohammad Salmawi, the spokesman for the 50-member panel.

“However, the commission is still considering whether the final draft will be called a new constitution or amendments to the 2012 constitution,” Salmawi, a prominent leftist writer, told a press conference on Thursday.

The panel, led by Egypt’s ex-foreign minister Amr Mousa, has two months to finish re-writing the constitution, which was drafted by an Islamist-controlled assembly last year when president Mohammad Mursi of the Muslim Brother was in power.

Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was removed by the army in July after massive street protests against his one-year-old rule. The 2012 constitution has been criticised for allegedly being vague and underestimating rights of women and minorities. Islamists are under-represented on the current panel and have repeatedly groused that their suggestions are ignored.

The Salafist Nour Party, the only Islamist party represented on the board, accuses secularists of seeking to “obliterate Egypt’s Islamic identity” from the constitution. Secularists argue back that the charter should enshrine a non-discriminatory, civil state in Egypt.

“There is an overwhelming majority at the commission in favour of producing a new constitution for Egypt instead of beautifying the image of the 2012 constitution,” said Sameh Ashour, a member of the panel.

“Representatives of society’s different segments agree that the constitution should unequivocally state that Egypt is a civil and democratic state,” added Ashour, the head of the Lawyers’ Association and a staunch critic of Islamists.

Re-writing the charter is one major component of a roadmap declared by the military following Mursi’s overthrow. The Brotherhood has spurned offers from the country’s new rulers to join the process, insisting on Mursi’s reinstatement.

“The call for issuing a new constitution is a violation of the roadmap, which only promised amending the constitution,” said Yasser Burhami, a leading Salafist.

“This cannot be accepted under any circumstances. The interim President Adly Mansour himself took office on the basis of this roadmap, which said that the 2012 constitution has been suspended not scrapped,” added Burhami.

Islamists have recently threatened to rally followers to reject the charter when it is put up for a public vote later this year if articles “specifying Egypt’s Islamic identity” are dropped from the final draft. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country of 85 million people. Christians, who account for around 10 per cent of the country’s population, have often complained about alleged persecution, mainly under Islamists’ rule.