Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Rallying cry

This week’s mass demonstration of Islamists under the banner “Sharia and Legitimacy” was a calculated show of strength, reports
Ahmed Morsy

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Al-Ahram Weekly

After two weeks of demonstrations by civil political forces protesting against President Mohamed Morsi’s constitutional declaration, Islamist forces organised their own mass protest at Nahda Square, Giza on Saturday. The “Sharia and Legitimacy” demonstration was staged in support of President Morsi’s decree placing his decisions beyond judicial review and the Shura Council and Constituency Assembly beyond legal challenge. In a show of power hundreds of thousands of protesters representing different political Islamist trends converged on Nahda Square beginning in the early hours of Saturday morning. Many of those in attendance had been bussed in from outside Cairo.
More than 20 Islamist parties and movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafist Nour Party, the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, the Revolution Guardians Party and the Free Islamic Coalition movement, participated.
“We are here to support our president,” Yasser Yousri, a mosque preacher from Tanta, told Al-Ahram Weekly. “It’s a message to the world that Morsi is not alone.”
The Pro-Morsi rally was first scheduled for 27 November in Abdine Square. In order to avoid a confrontation with Tahrir protesters who had already announced that their first big demonstration would be held on 27 November, Islamist groups announced they would protest in Tahrir Square on 1 December only to change the venue from Tahrir to Giza.
“The Tahrir protests give the impression that all Egyptians are against Morsi. We are here to show not all the Egyptians oppose him,” says Salafi Amr Al-Nadi, a 31-year-old engineer who lives in Cairo. Al-Nadi approves the constitutional declaration and insists that it is not dictatorial since it will apply only to the transitional period.
“The people want God’s Sharia” and “Egypt will be Islamic despite the will of secularists and liberals” were among the most common chants.
“In addition to supporting Morsi’s decree, we are here to demand the implementation of Sharia,” said Bedoun Mustafa, an elderly woman who had joined the protests.
Cairo University professor of political science Hassan Nafaa told Al-Ahram Weekly that the “Sharia and Legitimacy” million-man march would only aggravate existing political strife.
“It shows that President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are intent on hijacking the revolution rather than building a democratic regime and state institutions,” says Nafaa. The point of the demonstration, he added, was to display how many people the Islamists could put on the streets, hardly the action of a legitimate presidency.
Mohamed Ragheb, a lawyer and a member of the FJP, said he respected the right of the Tahrir protesters to express their opinions as long as they did so peacefully. Ragheb, who came from Alexandria to take part in the rally, added that everyone should read the constitution and then vote yes or no on the day of the referendum.
The Islamists’ demonstration was held against the backdrop of an open-ended sit-in in Tahrir Square. The protests in Giza and Tahrir dramatised the polarisation that has beset Egypt.
In the packed streets around Cairo University a group of Al-Azhar preachers arrived to participate in the pro-Morsi march chanting “Al-Azhar supports the president’s decision”.
“How can people ask Morsi to leave when he was elected president by the will of the people?” said Nader Al-Namarawi, one of the chanting preachers.
“We support Morsi and defend his legitimacy. Those who oppose the constitution should explain their objections. The people will decide.”
Political analyst Amr Al-Shobaki argued in his column in Al-Masry Al-Youm that relying on Sharia to mobilise supporters represented a political failure. “Raising the issue of Sharia for the second time in less than two months underlined that the Muslim Brotherhood is unable to mobilise its supporters on the basis of real political problems that urgently need to be addressed,” he said.

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