Some Egyptian Islamists organizations and parties, predominantly Salafist, have called for organizing the massive protest demanding implementation of Sharia Law in Egypt. The protest was scheduled for Friday, 9 November 2012, and was expected to gather thousands of demonstrators.
Among the participants were several Egypt’s Islamists, mostly Salafist groups and also their political wings, such as Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and its political wing Building and Developments Party; also Salafist Front and its People Party; Salafist Asala Party; Independent Azharite Conservative Front; Azhar Scholars Front; Peace and Development Party (which is currently under construction) and other forces.
The protests started after Friday noon prayers when tens of thousands of the Islamist protesters have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to voice their demand to implement Islamic Law as the sole and the only one source of legislation and calling for drafting the Sharia based Constitution for Egypt. There were also a lot of demonstrators from other Egyptian cities arrived in Cairo in the special charter buses.
The huge stage was built inside the square on the eve of the scheduled demonstrations, and the banners demanding the enforcement of the “Law of God” have been carried out. Some of the banners have even declared the readiness of those people to sacrifice their lives for implementing of the God’s Law.
Conservative and hard-line Islamists, Salafists, reject the current formulation of the controversial Article 2 of the Constitution’s draft presented by the Constituent Assembly. The current formulation of this article corresponds with the formulation of the 1971 Constitution and declares that “The principles of Sharia Law are the main source of legislation in Egypt”. The Salafists though are not agree with such a formulation and demand it to sound as “Sharia Law is the only one source of legislation”, not its principles.
The proposed by Salafists Article 2 should stipulate that “Islamic Sharia alone is the source of legislation, and everything what conflicts with it is invalid and corrupt”. Sharia should also govern all the laws in the state and also the state’s Constitution, demand the protesters.
Hard-line Islamists claim that the “principles” of Islamic Sharia, such as “equality”, “truth”, “justice”, are too vague and not enough, while Sharia Law could regulate all the fields of life and should be not the main, but the sole source of legislation.
“There will be no stability in the country until the Constitution follows Sharia”, announced the protesters and also vowed for more mass demonstrations demanding drafting the new Constitution on the base of Islamic Law and enforcement of Sharia on all the levels of life. Some Salafists groups and protesters even said there could be another revolution if their demands won’t be met.
The demonstrators have been also protesting against “any foreign intervention in the process of drafting the Constitution” and accused Egypt’s secular and liberal forces of hindering the stipulation of Islamic Law as the only one source of legislation and preventing the work of the Constituent Assembly, hampering the drafting process. The protesters claimed Egyptian liberals only call themselves Muslims, but they step back when it comes to the enforcement of the God’s Law. Egyptian liberal were also accused of working for foreign agenda and allowing the West to intervene of the Egypt’s constitutional process.
Strong anti-liberal and anti-secular moods were very obvious among the protesters gathered in Tahrir Square.
It is worth mentioning here that Egyptian secular and liberal forces have been systematically voiced their worries and concerns regarding the process of drafting the new Constitution as the basic freedoms and rights of the human and citizen are violated and limited there, especially women’s rights and the rights of minorities. Liberals used to criticize the Constituent Assembly as it is strongly dominated by the Islamist forces. In addition to that the current Constituent Assembly was formed by the now dissolved Lower House of Egypt’s Parliament and awaits the verdict of the High Constitutional Court regarding the issue of its constitutionality. We would remind here that the first Constituent Assembly was dissolved by the Court ruling.
During the protest the demonstrators have also collected the signs under their petition calling for implementing Sharia as the sole source of legislation and for the Sharia based Constitution.
But the implementing of the Islamic Law was not the only one demand of the Friday’s protest. Among the other demands to be voiced was also the demand for dismissal of Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, Egypt’s General Prosecutor. He was accused of working for ensuring security of Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak and his aides. Egyptian judicial system was also generally criticized during the protests.
The demonstrators were also chanting against Ahmed El-Zend, Head of Egypt’s Judges’ Club, who is known for his strong anti-Islamist stance.
The protesters have been also chanting against the “feloul” – the remnants of the old regime who are currently mobilizing for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, two of the most strong and influential Egypt’s Islamists’ forces – Muslim Brotherhood and their political arm, Freedom and Justice Party, and Salfists Al-Nour Party – announced they will not participate in the Friday’s protests.
According to the statement of Mahmoud Ghozlan, spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Constituent Assembly’s members have been already agreed that the special clause will be added to the Constitution, and this clause will define and explain what the “principles of Sharia” mean.
FJP has also declared it will not take part in the demonstration.
The Salafist Al-Nour Party representatives said they will not participate in the demonstration, but they are planning to organize some small gatherings and marches in front of the mosques to exhress the “popular” demand for implementing the Islamic Law.
However, despite the main Islamist powers in Egypt didn’t officially take part in the demonstrations, there were claims that the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nour youth were also present, when the numbers have been significantly increased later in the afternoon.
The Salafists forces declared they will continue protests to demand the Sharia-based Constitution and laws in Egypt and vowed for more actions.