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Egypt: hundreds of Islamists rally over constitution

Protesters want sharia, or Islamic law, enshrined in the country's new constitution.

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Egyptian Salafists shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the implementation of the sharia (Islamic law) in Cairo's Tahrir Square on November 2, 2012. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of Islamists thronged in Cairo's Tahrir Square today to demand greater inclusion of sharia, or Islamic law, in Egypt's forthcoming constitution, reported Reuters.

More from GlobalPost: Egypt constitution: The good, the bad and the ugly

"No to liberalism, no to secularism, I don't want anything other than sharia," some demonstrators reportedly chanted. 

Reuters said about 500 people had gathered in the square -- the flashpoint of political activity that led to the overthrow of leader Hosni Mubarak last year -- describing it as a more modest crowd than had been expected. Several main Salafi groups reportedly pulled out at the last minute, saying they will hold a separate future rally, said AFP

Egypt's new constitution is still being drafted and is the subject of heated debate. Article two currently describes Islam as the "religion of the State" and says the principles of "Islamic sharia form the main source of legislation," said AFP, wording that has prompted protest from the country's secularists as well as the more liberal Muslim community.

Hardline Islamists want to see "the principles of Islamic sharia" changed to "the rulings of sharia" or "sharia," according to AFP, and they also demand that Egypt's powerful Sunni Al-Azhar institution become "the state reference for the interpretation of sharia."

Rights groups, meanwhile, have raised concerns over the freedoms provided, or not provided, in the current draft. 

The Muslim Brotherhood, the party of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, was not involved in today's event, said Reuters

Egypt's Ahram Online said Islamists are planning a major protest for November 9. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/121102/egypt-hundreds-islamists-rally-over-constitution-cair