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Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya prepares for Friday Tahrir protest

Group plans to attend Tahrir demonstrations to voice its rejection of government-proposed 'supra-constitutional principles'

MENA, Wednesday 16 Nov 2011
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A million-man march is planned this Friday
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Mohamed Hasaan, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya’s secretary-general, confirmed that the Islamist group would take part in Friday’s mass protest in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's January 25 Revolution.

He said Al-Jamaa, whose political wing is the Building and Development Party, intends to voice its objection to the recently-unveiled raft of supra-constitutional principles, which was met by refusal from across the political spectrum.

Hasaan stated that Al-Jamaa would go to Tahrir even if last-gasp changes were made to the principles – also known as the “El-Selmi Communiqué” – because the group believes there should not be any constitutional principles without a popular referendum.

“We refused to attend the meeting with the rest of the political forces [to discuss the supra-constitutional principles], because when someone says ‘there are many who approved the communiqué’, they still represent themselves,” he said.

“Representatives chosen by the people should represent them and draft the coming constitution,” he added.

Many political parties and groups rejected the El-Selmi communiqué because it gives the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) unfettered authority, with some even suggesting that it puts the ruling council beyond criticism or legal challenge.

It is also understood that the communiqué would diminish the political role of Egypt’s revolutionary forces.

Fierce competition with NDP

Speaking about upcoming parliamentary elections, Hasaan said Al-Jamaa was expecting a fierce electoral fight with remnants of the National Democratic Party (NDP) who are seeking to get back into parliament.

The former ruling NDP was dismantled shortly after the January 25 Revolution, which led to the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak. The 83-year-old used to be the head of the party.

After the revolt, several NDP figures established separate political parties, behind which they are trying to hide and win seats in the coming parliament.

In Upper Egypt, competition between NDP and Al-Jamaa candidates is expected to be fierce, with both sides enjoying a heavy presence.

“We’re ready for the electoral battle with the remnants of the NDP, especially in Upper Egypt,” said Hasaan.

A court order barring NDP figures from contesting elections was recently announced, but was later reversed. Now, they appear poised for the ballot.

“We had hoped that this order would be applied, but we knew that competition with NDP remnants would be ferocious in any event,” Hasaan added. “We doubt anyone will cast his vote for them.”

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