Massive Friday protest in Egypt to demand implementing Islamic law

Osman El Sharnoubi, Thursday 8 Nov 2012

Islamist groups - excluding Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nour Party - to protest at Tahrir Square demanding the inclusion of Sharia as the main source of legislation in Egypt's new constitution

Protesters gather in Tahrir square on Friday 2 November asking for the Sharia law (Photo: Mai Shaheen).

Many Islamist groups announced their intent to participate in scheduled 9 November protest in Tahrir Square to call for the application of Sharia (Islamic law) in Egypt.

The Salafist groups, Al-Gamaa Islamiya and its Building and Development Party and Salafist Front along with its political arm the People Party, will congregate in a planned million-man demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.

The conservative Islamists groups reject the present formulation of Article 2 of the draft constitution being drawn up by Egypt's Constituent Assembly. The article states that the "principles of Islamic Sharia" are the main source of legislation."

Islamic Sharia and its rulings – not its "principles" – should be the main source of legislation, Ahmed Mawlana, People Party spokesman, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

Many Salafist Muslims regard the "principles" of Islamic law – which translate into values such as justice, truth, and equality – as too vague and far placed from proper Islamic doctrine, while Sharia encompasses all aspects of life, they argue.

Sheikh Hashem Islam, conservative Al-Azhar scholar and member of the Fatwas Committee (religious edicts) of Al-Azhar, issued a religious edict toping to enshrine Sharia as such.

Article 2 should read as, “Islamic Sharia alone is the source of all legislation and all that conflicts it is invalid and corrupt,” said Sheikh Islam. The article should also stipulate that Sharia governs the constitution and laws, he added.

Sheikh Islam is among a group of conservative Azharite scholars who will join the protests on Friday.

While the Friday protests are intended to be massive, the two main Islamist groups in the country – the Muslim Brotherhood (where Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi hails from) and the Salafist Al-Nour Party will refrain from taking part in the demonstration.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, said the group will not join the protest, saying that a new clause will be added in the constitution explaining what the "principles of Islamic Sharia" means.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, also said it won't be participating on Friday. Mourad Ali, the party's media consultant told Al-Ahram's Arabic portal that discussions concerning the constitution are ongoing and the party hasn't taken a final position on the charter yet.

Vice-chairman of the Salafist Nour Party, Yosri Hammad, also said his party will not join the Tahrir demonstration, but said it would engage in small demonstrations in front of major mosques in Egypt to express the "popular" demand of implementing Islamic law in Egypt, he told the Arabic portal.

Other groups taking part in Friday's event are the Salafist Asala Party, Independent Azharite conservative front, Azhar Scholars Front, and Peace and Development Party (under construction) affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement.

Other demands to be voiced Friday include the dismissal of the current General Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud – accused of working to guarantee the innocence of Mubarak-era figures being tried.

They also plan to protest again the "remnants" of the former regime currently mobilizing to participate in the country's coming parliamentary elections.

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