Salafis, liberals clash near Tahrir during pro-Sharia demonstration

Salafi and liberal revolutionary youths scuffled with one another near Tahrir Square on Friday, during a dozens-strong Islamist-led protest to demand the application of Sharia law.

The clashes occurred on adjoining Mohamed Mahmoud Street after liberal youths chanted against President Mohamed Morsy: “Oh Morsy, you spare tire, we will return you to prison” and “They said freedom, they said dignity, but all we have seen is remorse.” The chants angered Salafi youths, who attacked the liberals. Some sheikhs who were participating in the protest eventually intervened and broke up the clashes.

Salafi youths then returned to the square, chanting, “Bread, freedom, Islamic Sharia,” while opposing protesters chanted against them.

جمعة «تطبيق الشريعة» بميدان التحرير

The Salafi Dawah had called for the protest on 25 October, but later postponed it to 29 October as many movements, except for Jama’a al-Islamiya and the Salafi Front, said they would not take part.

The Islamist forces that declined to participate included the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, as well as the Salafi-led Nour and Asala parties.

The protest was further postponed to 2 November due to disagreements over Article 2 of the constitutional draft, which is expected to be completed within days. The article in question concerns the role of Islamic law in Egypt’s legal system.

About 22 Islamist groups announced their participation in the Friday protest, and said they would stage other protests over the week in preparation for a massive protest next Friday to demand the inclusion of articles obliging the application of Sharia in the new constitution.

Secular and liberal forces said the Islamists’ call for demonstrations is an attempt to show off power and pressure the Constituent Assembly to respond to their demands.

The traffic flowed smoothly through Tahrir Square and nearby streets early in the day Friday. Police directed cars through, which were unaffected by the dozens of protesters.

A single stage was set up in front of the Mugamma administrative building, where protesters waved banners demanding the application of Sharia, purging Egypt’s judicial institutions and the dismissal of the head public prosecutor.

جمعة «تطبيق الشريعة» بميدان التحرير

The Islamist protesters raised white flags reading, "There is no god but God; Mohamed is the messenger of God," and raised banners that read, "Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation and accepts no amendment or referendum" and " An Islamic revolution to apply Sharia."

The Islamist protesters rejected the current wording of Article 2 of the draft constitution. They also demanded that the constitution give Al-Azhar senior scholars the responsibility of interpreting Sharia.

Head of the Cairo Security Directorate Osma al-Sagheer inspected Tahrir Square on Friday morning to ensure the demonstrations would be secure. Those who met Sagheer in the square complained about the government’s decision to close shops at 10 pm.

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