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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid