Salafi leader slams draft constitution ahead of protests for Sharia in Egypt

November 21, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

As debates about Egypt’s draft constitution continue, a Salafi political leader has said that those who vote for a bill that does not establish “sharia rulings” as the main source of law will go “to hell”.

Salafi protestors have filled Tahrir Square on numerous occasions

Salafi protestors have filled Tahrir Square on numerous occasions

Egypt, November 19, 2012: The comments from Adel Afifi, founder and president of the Al-Asala party, came ahead of demonstrations in Cairo by thousands of Islamists demanding sharia law. They took to Tahrir Square, the heart of the Egyptian revolution, on two consecutive Fridays, 2 and 9 November.

Afifi had called at the end of October for people to “Support God and reject the constitution”. The draft states that the “principles of Islamic sharia form the main source of legislation”; Salafists and other hard line Islamists are demanding that “principles” be replaced by “rulings”. Afifi said that those who accepted the draft would be “apostates”, “committing a sin” and “casting themselves into hell”.

Thousands of supporters of various Salafi groups took part in the Friday “support sharia” demonstrations. The protests highlighted the shifting climate in Egypt since the revolution: one placard read, “Bread, freedom, sharia,” “sharia” replacing “social reform” in a slogan central to the January 2011 uprisings. Another sign read, “The Quran is above the constitution.”

The drafting of the new Egyptian constitution has proved highly contentious thus far, with Salafists dissatisfied because it is not Islamic enough for them, while secularists and non-Muslims are fearful about the imposition of a religious state. Christians, who comprise around ten per cent of the population, are particularly concerned about the implementation of sharia in a country where they are increasingly facing hostility and violence from Islamists.

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood appears to be more favourable to a gradual implementation of sharia, while the Salafists want it to be imposed immediately.

There are also concerns about women’s rights under the new Egyptian order. An article that said, “The state will do everything to promote equality between women and men without abandoning the judgements of Islamic law,” has been dropped.

Secularists objected to women’s rights being made subject to sharia, which puts women in a subordinate position to men, while Salafists feared that not restricting gender equality would jeopardise certain sharia rulings, for example, those that permit men to marry several wives.Removing the article was seen as a compromise between the two positions but has left some women’s rights activists concerned about the prospects for gender equality in Egypt.

– barnabas team

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