Salafis call for Islamic law in Egypt protest

Salafists shout slogans demanding the implementation of the sharia in Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 2, 2012.

Story highlights

  • Thousands of pro-Sharia demonstrators took to Tahrir Square in Cairo
  • The Salafis want Sharia law imposed immediately
  • Many Egyptians want to focus on other issues, such as poverty and corruption

Thousands of supporters of various Egyptian Salafi groups gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday calling for the immediate implementation of Islamic law.

Before midday prayers, speakers called on the government of President Mohamed Morsy to move quickly to implement Sharia. Morsy won the office as the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party.

Read more: Amid uneasy calm in Cairo, prime minister says some were paid to protest

About 10,000 demonstrators advocating for Sharia filled the square, chanting in unison, "The people want God's law applied."

Egypt is formulating a new, post-revolutionary constitution, and Sharia's place in the process is highly contentious -- dividing Islamists and secularists, and even Islamists themselves. The Muslim Brotherhood is in favor of gradual implementation of Sharia, while the Salafis want it imposed immediately.

Cairo's view of White House race
Cairo's view of White House race

    JUST WATCHED

    Cairo's view of White House race

MUST WATCH

Cairo's view of White House race 03:01
PLAY VIDEO
Amanpour: Protests gather steam in Egypt
Amanpour: Protests gather steam in Egypt

    JUST WATCHED

    Amanpour: Protests gather steam in Egypt

MUST WATCH

Amanpour: Protests gather steam in Egypt 06:27
PLAY VIDEO

Many Egyptians complain that the country should focus on cutting poverty and unemployment, reviving the flagging economy and fighting corruption.

Read more: Al Qaeda-inspired group claims responsibility for border attack

Egypt's Coptic Christian minority, which makes up between 8% and 10% of the population, is adamantly opposed to the demands by the Salafis and their allies for Sharia's implementation.

The recently elected Coptic pope, Tawadros II, has expressed his opposition to Egypt's adaptation of a religious constitution.

Demonstration organizers set up a large stage and sound system overnight. Residents in the neighborhoods around Tahrir slept fitfully as the sound system blasted religious songs and prayers starting at midnight.

Read more: Will Egypt's leaders calm or fan the crisis?

The two main organizers are the Gama'a Islamiya, which fought against the security forces of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, and the Salafi Front, which was founded after Mubarak's departure. Earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Nour Party declared they would not participate in the event.

Such demonstrations, by groups across the political spectrum, have become an almost weekly occurrence since the ouster of the Mubarak regime in February 2011.

        CNN Recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        North Korea nuclear dream video

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photos: Faces of the world

        Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        How to fix a soccer match

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.