Prominent Islamist groups to skip Sharia demonstration

More Islamist groups on Wednesday rejected Friday’s planned demonstration demanding the application of Islamic Sharia in the new constitution.

Article 2 of the 1971 constitution, which remains unchanged in the draft of the new constitution issued in October, stipulates that the principles of Sharia are the main source of legislation. The article has been the subject of heated debate over the drafting process, with Salafis wanting the word “principles” omitted. Secular groups and the Brotherhood wish to keep the original phrasing.

The Salafi Dawah, which originally called for the protest, has announced that it would not take part in the demonstration. The group had called for the protest on 25 October, but on 29 October they announced its postponement to 9 November as many movements said they would not take part.  

Jama’a al-Islamiya and the Salafi Front, among others, staged protests last Friday for the same purpose. According to official news reports, about 22 Islamist groups participated in the Friday protest.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Salafi Dawah said Sharia is the major reference for all Islamist movements, particularly the Salafi doctrine, and that the climate of freedom that Egypt has been blessed with since the 25 January revolution proved that the majority Egyptians demand its application.

The movement also called on other Islamist forces not to claim their actions, including the Salafi movement, without coordinating with it first. The statement added that the movement is organizing rallies in defence of Sharia and in response to suspicions raised around it.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan said the group would not take part on Friday, adding that an agreement was reached in the Constituent Assembly to assign Al-Azhar scholars to add text in the constitution that explains the meaning of the Sharia principles. “This should suffice,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform, which includes members of the Al-Azhar, Salafi movements and the Muslim Brotherhood, asked Islamist forces and the Salafis to postpone the demonstration until the final draft of the constitution is issued. It also called for deleting the word “principles” from the article so as to avoid controversy over it.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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