Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood says Islamic Sharia law must be the basis of Egypt's new constitution, and legislation must be based on Islamic penal code.

In a statement published on Wednesday the Brotherhood said that a country ruled by Sharia would not become a theocracy. President Mohammed Morsi comes from the Brotherhood.

The statement appeared to be an attempt to clarify the group's position toward the country's most contentious issue - the extent of Islamic influence in governance and legislation.

The 100-member Islamist-led panel tasked with drafting the new document has been facing heavy criticism, mostly from liberals who fear Islamization of Egypt through its work.

The constitution would be a key definer of Egypt's government and society after last year's ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.