Islamists commence campaign against supra-constitutional principles

Egypt's Islamist groups on Saturday began a campaign against government plans to draw up principles regulating the election of the panel that will draft the country's new constitution.

The campaign follows a Saturday announcement by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that it had tasked Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's government with preparing this list of principles.

The SCAF said that the principles will be issued as a constitutional declaration after a variety of political groups agree on them.

Islamists strongly oppose demands by secular and liberal groups to influence the new constitution before the parliamentary elections scheduled for November. The Islamists claim to be adhering to the results of the referendum on constitutional amendments, held in March, which stipulated that the next parliament be tasked with electing the constitutional panel.

Secular and liberal groups are insisting on securing a heterogenuous panel that represents all political interests.

Mamdouh Ismail, an Islamist lawyer, has sent an admonition to Sharaf and his deputy, Ali al-Selmy, urging them to cancel the proposed declaration. "The next step will be to sue Sharaf and Selmy until they abide by people's will," Ismail told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Meanwhile, the Public Will Front, an Islamist group, has launched a campaign seeking to gather a million letters to be sent to the cabinet, expressing rejection of the proposed principles.

A statement by the group on Saturday said Sharaf and Selmy have ignored the people's will and are seeking to dupe Egyptians and impose their custodianship on them.

The statement added that government's plan is a circumvention of democracy and a further exclusion of Islamist groups. It argued that the government is adopting the ideas of political groups that have no presence on the ground.

The chairman of the Salafi Asala Party said Islamists will not remain silent about these plans.

Khaled Saeed, spokesperson for the Salafi Front, said a campaign will be launched seeking signatures against supra-constitutional principles.

The 77 Alliance, another Islamist group, staged a 30-minute protest in front of the cabinet's headquarters on Saturday, demanding the government give up its plans and to put a timetable on transferring power.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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