CAIRO, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The hardline Islamist group, al- Jamaa al-Islamiya, said on Monday it will boycott the referendum on Egypt's new constitution scheduled for next month.
The group and its Development and Construction party urged people to boycott the referendum slated for Jan. 14-15, said Safwat Abdel Ghany, an al-Jamaa al-Islamiya member of the Shura Council, at a press conference.
According to the Shura Council member, the new charter " confiscates the Islamic identity" and is "entrenched with savage secularism."
Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, which is one of the leading parties in the pro-Mohamed Morsi national coalition, added it will launch a popular campaign to dissuade citizens from supporting the constitution and will distribute booklets to show the "weaknesses" of the new constitution compared to the constitution designed by mostly Islamists under former President Morsi in 2012.
Ghany said the new charter removed Sharia (Islamic Law) regulations and articles which forbid the insulting of religious figures.
The 50-member panel that amended the 2012 constitution also removed another article that gave Islamic clerics unprecedented powers by allowing senior scholars of al-Azhar, the most respected center of scholarship and rulings in Sunni Islam "to be consulted in matters pertaining of Islamic law."
Mohamed Hamad, al-Jamaa al-Islamiya's spokesperson, said posters and publications will be distributed next week, adding, the group plans to protest peacefully outside referendum centers in January during the two voting days.
In a speech on Saturday, Interim President Adli Mansour calling on leading Islamists "to avoid being stubborn and have the courage to integrate into the political process," a call many saw as directed toward Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Nasr Abdel Salam, a leading member in the pro-Morsi alliance, described the call as "meaningless," stressing the opposition would not accept dialogue with the interim government that replaced Morsi, adding they reject "any vote under military rule."
Since the Egyptian military toppled Morsi on July 3, more than 2,000 Islamists, including Morsi and other top Brotherhood leaders, were detained for inciting violence, murdering peaceful protesters and possessing unlicensed weapons.
In response, Morsi supporters have been calling for increased protests and have condemned the crackdown on university student protesters, who have been staging daily protests for months since the beginning of the semester.
Last month, Egypt's army-installed interim government issued a law banning protests near or originating from places of worship, and made it compulsory to seek Interior Ministry permission before holding a demonstration.
Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi said the government is committed to securing the referendum on the constitution, adding, on Monday, that the role of provinces will be essential during the referendum and that the police and armed forces will provide security.