Egypt’s al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya – or Islamic Group – is warning it could use violence as a means to ensure Sharia law is adopted in the latest draft of the country’s constitution and is calling on Egyptians to wage “jihad and fight in support of Sharia.”
This call was made by Mohamed Salah, the leader of the group which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya’s spiritual leader was the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman who is imprisoned in the U.S. for his role in blowing up the World Trade Center in New York in February 1993 and for plotting to assassinate then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Salah said during a conference in the Ain Shams neighborhood that Egyptians should “support Islamic Sharia in the Egyptian constitution,” and that “Jama’a al-Islamiya* will fight for the application of God’s law, even if that requires bloodshed.”
He called on Islamist movements to organize mass demonstrations to “trap secularists inside the place where the Constituent Assembly holds its meetings, so that everyone knows that the people want an Islamist [state].”
He also demanded that President Mohamed Morsy issue a decree to “defeat the schemes of liberals to reject the law of God.”
He stressed that the referendum on the constitution in its current form is forbidden by Islam, calling on the Egyptian people to “[wage] jihad and fight in support of Sharia.”
After President Mubarak was deposed last year, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya formed the Building and Development Party (also known as the Construction and Development Party) which won 13 seats in the lower house of Parliament. Assem Abdel Meguid of that political party also had some choice words against the draft of the constitution, according to Egypt Independent:
He noted that the next step would be mobilizing millions for jihad with their lives and money in the battle to support Sharia.
He stressed on the need to unite the Islamist currents to face the liberal and secular groups that “implement Western agendas.”
Sheikh Abdel Akher Hammad, a member of the group’s Shura Council, called on group members to “mobilize themselves and get ready for the battle of applying Sharia, in the case of [the second article] remaining as it is.”
Hammad also called on Egyptians to “donate and raise funds to be used in the battle for supporting Sharia in the constitution.”
In the 1990s, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya was involved in terrorist attacks that killed scores of tourists and also tried to assassinate President Mubarak with the aim of forming an Islamic regime based on Sharia law. It later said it was abandoning violence and apologized for past attacks. This latest call for jihad raises calls into question the group’s statement that it won’t use violence as a tactic to reach political ends.
Note: In Arabic, the letter “Jim” is pronounced in most Arabic-speaking countries like the English letter J; however, in Egypt, it is pronounced as “G.” As a result, some articles refer to the group as al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, while others opt for “Jama’a.”