CAIRO, Nov 9, 2012 (AFP) -
CAIRO, Nov 9, 2012 (AFP) –
Several hundred Salafists demonstrated in Cairo on Friday to demand that sharia, or Islamic law, be the basis for legislation in a new constitution being drafted for Egypt.
Nearly 2,000 radical Islamists gathered in Tahrir Square for the second consecutive Friday to vent their demands, an AFP correspondent reported.
“The Koran (Islam’s holy book) is above the constitution,” said a placard strung across the emblematic Cairo landmark that was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak from power.
“Bread, freedom, sharia,” said another sign, with the word sharia replacing a call for “social reform” central to last year’s uprising.
The main Al-Nur Salafist party and the influential Muslim Brotherhood, from whose ranks Mubarak’s successor Mohamed Morsi comes, said they would not take part in the protest, organised by smaller radical groups.
A 100-member Constituent Assembly, dominated by Islamists, has been tasked with drafting a new constitution for post-Mubarak Egypt.
The new charter is to replace the 1971 one that was suspended by the military, which took power when Mubarak was ousted last February.
The old constitution said the main source for legislation were the “principles of sharia.” Ultra-conservative Muslims want the new charter to to say it should be sharia alone.
Liberals, secularists and the Coptic church, whose minority community has become increasingly fearful of the rise of Islamists to power in Egypt, reject this stance.
“A constitution that hints at imposing a religious state in Egypt is absolutely rejected,” Egypt’s new Coptic Pope Tawadros II said on Monday, a day after he was chosen, the independent Al-Watan newspaper reported.
President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has pledged that the new constitution would make reference to sharia, but in terminology suggesting a compromise.
In October, an Egyptian court meant to rule on the fate of the constitutional panel referred the case to a superior court, which has already expressed its opposition to the draft charter.