Egypt's Al-Azhar condemns carrying of the Quran in protests

Ahram Online, Friday 21 Nov 2014

Salafists plan to protest against the government on 28 November bearing Qurans

Egyptian man holds up the a copy of Quran
An Egyptian man holds up the a copy of Quran next to a national flag during a protest held by Muslim Salafi groups against the French military attack on Mali, in front of the French embassy in Giza, Egypt Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Al-Azhar, Egypt's leading Islamic authority, said Friday that calls to carry the Quran in anticipated Salafist protests are "seditious", state news agency MENA reported.

The Salafist Front is calling for nationwide demonstrations on 28 November, to demand the imposition of "Islamic identity", condemn government economic and political policies, and call for "an end to military rule."

The front has called on protesters to hold up the Quran, Islam’s holy book, during the demonstrations.

"[These protests] deceive Muslims in the name of religion; they are a call for chaos and for [disrespecting] the Quran," Al-Azhar said in its statement.

The Salafist Call, another major Salafist group in Egypt, denounced on Tuesday the front's protest calls.

"It has become clear that the purpose of the protests is to exhaust the state," it said in a statement.

Since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July last year, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy – an umbrella for Morsi loyalists led by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood – has been the main group staging major anti-government protests.

The Salafist Front and its political wing, the Nour Party, backed the ouster of Morsi and the interim authorities that replaced him.

The interior ministry has vowed to deal "firmly" with the anticipated protests and said it would use live ammunition against those who "threaten security."

A law, passed in November last year, bans unauthorised protests and puts restrictions on public assembly. Hundreds have been jailed under the law's provisions.


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