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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid