11/29/2013, 00.00
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Secular activists against Egypt's new "authoritarian" law on demonstrations

The controversial law on "unauthorised" protests claims its first victim. Alaa Abdul Fattah, a leading figure in the demonstrations against Mubarak and the Islamists, is arrested. In the Constituent Assembly, Christian Churches and al-Azhar win the battle against Salafis over Sharia.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - As delegates to the Constituent Assembly discuss the articles of the new Egyptian Constitution, whose draft is expected to be released tomorrow, the interim government is strictly enforcing its new law on demonstrations.

Last night, police arrested Alaa Abdul Fattah, a top Arab Spring leader who fought against Mubarak and Morsi. He was taking part in a sit-in against the authorities outside the headquarters of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament).

Fattah has been imprisoned at least three times in recent years: under Mubarak, under Morsi in January 2013 and now under the military-backed government.

His case has sparked criticism from Tamarud activists who contributed to the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and have often been accused of backing the military.

Hassan Shahin, co-founder of the movement with Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdel Aziz, announced today that he would take part in the protests until the authorities release Fattah and the other 23 activists arrested in front of the Shura building.

On his Facebook page Shanin slammed Sisi, calling Tamarud supporters to take to the streets next week to protest against the law the government ostensibly adopted to stop violent Islamist demonstrations.

Also today, another student was killed in clashes with police in front of Cairo University, which has under siege for days by hundreds of President Mohamed Morsi supporters.

Despite the chaos of recent months, the committee drafting a new constitution has not stopped its work. So far, a majority of members has been able to resist Islamist demands.

Yesterday, after a session that lasted more than 12 hours, the alliance between the Coptic Church, Catholics, Anglicans, and Al-Azhar successfully resisted Salafi demand that Sharia be acknowledged as the foundation of the state.

Committee spokesman Mohamed Salmawy announced that the preamble and most of the chapters of the constitution have been completed. What is more, the preamble itself will not mention Sharia as the ultra-conservative al-Nour party would have liked because no one else would agree to it, Salmawy explained.

Most members, including representatives of the churches and of al-Azhar, agreed however to recognise 'Sharia principles', as was the case of the constitution under Mubarak.

Ultimately, the final proposal will go before the Constitutional Court which will vet the draft with the final say up to Egyptian voters in a referendum.

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See also
Blitz of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists: Sharia is the main source of law
Muslim Brotherhood calls for 'Friday of Anger' as Cairo death toll rises along with number of torched Christian buildings
Morsi says no to the military and millions of Egyptians who call for democracy
Islamist parties take to the street against the military, threaten violence
Egypt's new constitution protects religious freedom, but gives too much power to the military


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