- Life Style
Members from nearly twenty different Islamic movements and parties gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday, in what critics mockingly called "Second Kandahar Friday," after a similar protest last year in July of last year when Islamic groups also took to the square in large numbers.
Demonstrators called for the full implementation of Islamic law, with some also rejecting what they called the compromising positions of the country's current Muslim Brotherhood leadership. Speakers on platforms erected in the square blamed former Brotherhood leader President Mohamed Morsy for dialoguing with liberal and secular political movements.
Many voiced their rejection of the draft constitution recently put forward by the Muslim Brotherhood, demanding that Article II not read that the country's laws are based on the principles of Sharia, but instead read, "Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation."
"We will not relent in our Sharia or martyrdom,"Islamic leader Hafez Salama said from a stage sponsored by the ultra-conservative group Jama'a al-Islamiya.
Demonstrators raised flags the flags of al-Qaeda, Egypt and Saudi Arabia throughout the day. Some also held pictures of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who has been jailed in the United States on terrorist charges.
Participants modified famous chants from the January 25 uprising to support their cause. Among the slogans were: "The people want the application the law of God," and "bread, freedom, and Islamic Sharia."
Among the most prominent Islamic movements to participate in the demonstration were the Jama'a al-Islamiya with members from its governorate offices, Salafi Dowa, Salafi front, and the Jihad organization.
Marches set out from mosques after Friday prayers heading to Tahrir Square, including the Al-Nour mosque in Abbasiya and Fatih Mosque in Ramses Square, Istiqama mosque in Giza and Assad bin Euphrates in Dokki.
Observers and participants estimated the size of the protest to be roughly 10,000.
The Muslim Brotherhood announced earlier that its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party would not formally participate. The Salafi Nour Party also said it would be abstaining.
However, members of the two major Islamist parties took part in the demonstration informally in large numbers. An announcement was made from the main stage in the square that the members of the Young Muslim Brotherhood were participating. Shadi Majzoub, media officer for the Supporters of Sharia Association, confirmed the participation of some Nour Party members along with other Islamic coalitions.
Many were not afraid to voice their disagreement with the president.
"Hey Doctor Morsy, Sharia is more important than your office," Salama told the crowd. "What disturbs us is Morsy has broken his promises."
Jalal Ibrahim, a 28-year-old freelancer, was in the square to remind Morsy and the Brotherhood of why he elected them.
"I do not think ill of the Brotherhood," he said. "But we are here to tell them that the implementation of Sharia is for them and for all of us, and if they do not do carry this out, they will lose the legitimacy we entrusted them with."
Osama al-Qasim, a member of the Jihad group, directed his speech directly to Morsy.
"What have you accomplished since your assumption of the presidency?" he said. "You did not make a decision about preserving public morals or the fight against the drug trade or thuggery. I wonder, then, why we elected you."
Participants in the demonstration said they believed that the application of Sharia would fully solve the problems of Egypt. Many criticized the liberal and secular movements, which they said represented a minority of Egyptians.
Tamer Abdul Latif, a 30-year-old social worker from Cairo, said that a constitution based merely on the principles of Islamic Sharia had been the main source of legislation under former president Hosni Mubarak."
"And we didn't benefit from that at all," he said. "The laws of people lead us only to corruption, while God's law ensures that everyone receives what he is entitled to."
Sharif Abdel Mohsen, a 25-year-old freelancer, was wearing a military jacket. He said he belongs to the school Salafi jihadism.
"I do not accept the current laws; there is no alternative to Sharia," he said. He also criticized the constitution writers for consulting with seculars and liberals.
Nearby, one poster read, "We will achieve our dream, with our blood, if need be."
Many participants in the demonstration said they had come from outside of Cairo, most were bearded and wore white robes. Few women were visible in the crowd.
Asim Abdul Majid, a member of the Shura Council from the Jama'a al-Islamiya, asked in his speech for the demonstrations to continue every Friday until the implementation of Islamic law.
Adel Abdul Ghafoor, president of the Salafi Asala party, said in a speech that there should be a legal mechanism by which any Muslim citizen can file a lawsuit if they deem any law contradictory to Sharia.
Sayed Ismail , a 49-year-old freelancer from Ain Shams, said he did not expect Islamic and secular movements to ever reach a consensus on the constitution.
"They want falsehood and we want the truth, and the truth does not mix with falsehood," he said."Sharia will ensure the rights of Christians who have been persecuted by the Mubarak regime."
Demonstrators erected four platforms for day's activities, including a platform belonging to the Construction and Development Party, and another for the supporters of Islamic leader and former presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who took the stage on one occasion, to cheers of "We love you, Hazem."
He told protestors that by taking to the streets, they were proving their committment to Sharia, which they have demanded from the beginning.
"Today people took to the streets because the matter can no longer be dealt with using the methods of the constitution forming committee," Abu Ismail said. "And after today the brotherhood of muslims all over the world must know that we stand before a historical moment that we cannot let pass us by."
Near the platforms, a group of demonstrators periodically yelled, "Tahrir has said it strongly, Egypt will stay Islamic."