News / Africa

Islamists Show Solidarity in Massive Egypt Rally

Protesters gather with a banner with a Koranic verse in Tahrir square in Cairo, July 29, 2011
Protesters gather with a banner with a Koranic verse in Tahrir square in Cairo, July 29, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Tens of thousands of Egyptians supporting a variety of political movements rallied on Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday.  The groups don’t necessarily agree on what kind of country to build in the wake of the revolution five months ago, but their leaders decided to try to show solidarity during Friday’s protest.

Busloads of devout Muslims from around the country swelled the crowd and chanted for the establishment of Islamic Sharia law in Egypt.  Transportation for the demonstrators was arranged by several Islamist political groups that are eager to assert their influence after being largely sidelined during the revolution.

Video clip of today's protest:

One young non-religious man, Mohammed Deraz, welcomed the newcomers, but said they are trying to “jump on the shoulders” of the secular liberals like himself who played the largest role in the revolution.

“We made this revolution and we will continue," he said.  "They can come and say what you say.  We want everybody to live the real democracy.  But nobody will steal my revolution. I made it by myself and I will continue to the end or I will die.  Give me liberty or give me die, that’s what I’m doing.”

One of the many Islamists on the square said there is no plan to takeover the revolution.

“No, no, no,” said Ismail Sayed, wearing a traditional white galabiya, or robe.  He said he wants Sharia law applied in Egypt, but through a constitutional framework.  And he criticized the ruling military council for trying to impose rules that could empower the army to prevent an Islamic takeover in Egypt.

It was an impressive showing for the Islamists Friday, but one of their rivals in the square, Leila Hashem, said she is not concerned.

“It doesn’t worry me at all because even if you see them as many people today, they are not the majority," said Hashem. "They will never be the majority.  Most of the people don’t’ want this to be Egypt one day.  When it is election time, I don’t think these people will win.”

Estimates of Islamist support in the coming election vary from 10 to 35 percent, but the leading Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, says it hopes to attract coalition partners and achieve a majority in the Egyptian parliament.  Top leaders of secular parties say they will try to form an alliance to challenge the Islamists.

There is no date set yet for the parliamentary vote, but the military council has promised it will happen this year.  The Islamists want the election as soon as possible, when they believe their support will be greatest compared to the new and relatively disorganized secular political groups.

But for one day Friday, officially at least, the various movements put their differences aside.  A council of more than two dozen Islamist and secular groups agreed to focus on unity.  Among the few demands they agree on are an end to military trials of civilians and swift prosecutions of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and other former officials.

There was a report that some of the secular groups withdrew from the protest after it started Friday, accusing the Islamists of trying to dominate it.  But a spokesman for one of the main secular groups, the April 6th movement, denied the report.

A young man in the tent city in the middle of Tahrir Square, who called himself an ‘independent’ and said he was shot and arrested during the revolution, welcomed the unity theme.  Giving his name only as Alaa, he said the revolutionary movement needs all the support it can get as it continues to fight the vestiges of the Mubarak regime.

“This is the democracy that we need, that we want," Alaa said. "They have some opinions that they say, and we have some opinions that we say.  But we have much things that we agree about - many, many things.”

That view was reflected even in the suffocating heat and intimidating crush of the crowd in Tahrir Square Friday.  Many people said their main goal was to operate as “one hand, one Egypt.”

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid