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Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Salafist support for Morsi limited to recent constitutional declaration

Salafist groups announce support for Morsi's constitutional decree, but fall short of backing constitutional draft that doesn't make Islamic Law 'primary source' of legislation

Ekram Ibrahim, Thursday 29 Nov 2012
A press conference by members of different Salafists and revolutionary groups on Thursday (Photo: Ekram Ibrahim)

Salafists groups claim at a press conference on Thursday that recent Tahrir Square protests against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's constitutional declaration are "counter-revolutionary." Yet, their support for President Morsi is limited, as the proposed constitution falls short of their approval due to the lack of Sharia law as the "main" source of legislation.

Protecting the country from 'counter-revolution'

"This is a call for genuine revolutionaries to abort their collaboration with members of the old regime and to collaborate with Islamists to continue with the revolution," said Osama Ezz El-Arab, collaborator of Revolution Front to Support the Revolution.

During the press conference different spokespersons and Salafists activists explained why they support President's Mohamed Morsi's recent constitution decree.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood were not present in this press conference, in spite of the fact that they announced taking part in Saturday, 1 December protests to support Morsi's decisions.

Some Salafists argue revolutionaries are currently collaborating with so called felol or remnants of the old regime in protest against the recent presidential constitutional declaration and for some against what they call the "Brotherhoodization of the country."  

"For the most part, what is taking place in Tahrir Square against Morsi is a counter-revolution orchestrated by remnants of the old regime. They are using revolutionaries to reach that," said Alaa Abul Nasr, Secretary General of the Salafist Construction and Development Party.

Moreover, various Salafists argued that those in Tahrir Square are mobilized by some who have "special agendas" and are lacking any critical arguments against President Morsi.

Another argument by some Islamists is that Morsi's recent constitutional decree is in support of the revolution's demands, stating the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak's Prosecutor-General, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, and the re-trial of those involved in killing protesters during 25 January revolution have always been revolutionary demands.

Several Salafists claim the judiciary system is destroying different organisations in Egypt, referring to the dismantling of the People's Assembly and current Islamist-dominated Constitution Assembly.

Defending Morsi's self-proclaimed power over the judiciary system, "I support Morsi's decision to protect the country's organisations which the judiciary system destroys," Atef Fathy, Azhar Shiekh and member of Azhar Development Coalition, told Ahram Online.

Moreover, the President of the Constitution Party and described by some as the "Godfather" of Egypt's 25 January revolution, Mohamed ElBaradei, has been one name repeatedly criticised by different Salafists in the press conference, especially after his interview with Der Speigel was published out of context last Monday.

"ElBaradei is criticising us for being against the Holocaust and he is trying to be empowered by the West; he is a counter-revolutionary," Ahmed Abdulla, spokesman of Back to Sharia Movement said.

Meanwhile, in the interview, ElBaradei said that those remaining in the Constitution Assembly "include one who wants to ban music…another who denies the Holocaust and another who openly condemns democracy."

In response to the presidential constitutional declarations opponents' argument, which states that President Morsi is granting himself unlimited autocratic power, different Islamists argue that "Morsi is giving himself those powers until the legislative body is back, no dictator gives himself those powers for a  couple of months only," Abdulla added.

The Salafist Construction and Development Party proposed that President Morsi give the legislative power to the Shura Council, instead of keeping it to himself; a proposal Alaa Abul Nasr, Secretary General of Salafist Construction and Development Party initiated.

On Wednesday, members of the Constitutent Assembly agreed to add to the proposed constitution an article that would give the Islamist-dominated Shura Council (upper house of parliament) the power to issue legislation until a new lower house is elected.

Another main point tackled in the conference was a response to the argument that denounces the Islamists call to protest in Tahrir Square on Saturday, 1 December in support of Morsi's decree.

Tahrir Square is for all Egyptians and not only those who are opposing Morsi now, claimed many Islamists in response to recent mass protests in the square.

It happened before; both groups, non-Islamists and Islamists, protested in Tahrir Square with conflicting views (7 August 2011). No clashes took place.

However the Islamist groups decided to change the venue to avoid any possible clashes.

Discontent over the constitution

Meanwhile, Salafists groups at the press conference announced that their support for President Morsi does not imply that they will support the coming proposed constitution.

"Having the article that says only "principles" of Islamic Sharia and not "Sharia is the base of legislation" is unacceptable," Said Farag, Salafist member of the Islamic Coalition for Rights Support, told Ahram Online.

Also, Atef Fathy, Azhar Shiekh and member of Azhar Development Coalition, told Ahram Online that including "principles" of Islamic Sharia and not Islamic Sharia in legislation fails to express the Egyptian ideology.

Political groups who took part in the conference include: Judges for Egypt, Salafist Contruction and Development Party, Azhar Development Coalition, Back to Sharia Movement, Revolution General Coalition, Salafists Front, The People Party, Emsek Felol Movement, Free Islamic Wave, Free Lawyers Movement, Lawyers for the Sake of Egypt, Revolutionary Salafists, and Civilization Party. 

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