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 Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid