News / Africa

Egyptians Rally Demanding Military Cede Power

Protesters shout anti-military ruling council slogans in Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egypt's revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011
Protesters shout anti-military ruling council slogans in Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egypt's revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

With a little more than a week before Egypt's first post-revolution elections, demonstrators turned out en masse to protest what they say is the military's attempt to prolong its "temporary" powers.   

A sea of Islamists, secularists, conservatives and liberals converged on Cairo's Tahrir square Friday, demanding the military cede power in the coming months.

At issue is the so-called Selmi document, a proposal that would exempt the military from civilian oversight in the next constitution.  The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, says the document is not binding, an argument protesters say they don't believe.

Businessman Ashraf Saif says he is not sure what the rally will accomplish, but wants the army aware that popular will cannot be ignored.

He says the military council is like a snake in its dealings with the Egyptian nation.   He bemoans the lack of openness on the part of the rulers - the same disregard of the people the old government showed.


Many at the rally, one of the largest in months, were also calling for a faster transition to democratic rule.  Under the current plan, parliamentary elections will stretch from the end of this month into March.  The new legislature will then spend up to a year drafting a new constitution and only then will presidential elections be held.

The possibility of the SCAF in charge until 2013 has managed to unite, on Tahrir Square, such disparate groups as Facebook activists and ultra-conservative Salafists, and those in between.

Ayman Mohamed Hassan, a member of al Azhar, the world's oldest Islamic institution, says the principles Egyptians fought for during their uprising earlier this year must be implemented.

He argues for democratic rule, the elimination of remnants of the old regime and an end to corruption.  He also wants the election of a civilian president, and social justice so that people may regain their dignity.

Just what that social justice is based on, however, is a question that divided the crowd profoundly.   The rally was called by Islamist groups, who had largely kept a backseat during the revolution, but are showing strength in campaigns around the country.  Mahmoud el Nahat is a supporter of the Salafist al Nour party.

He argued Egypt "is a religious nation by nature" as he went through the crowd trying to draw votes for his candidate.

Nearby, an elderly woman, Behira Mohamed Abdl Fatah, said support for the fundamentalists was why she came out to Tahrir.

She says she's here to elect the al Nour party.  She wants Islam.  Asked whether al Nour or other Islamist parties might be against such revolutionary principles as equal rights, she said she's not worried.

But the secular minority in the crowd clearly are.  Liberal groups have campaigned heavily on the argument that an Islamist government would take Egypt backward, not forward.  There were small skirmishes between the two sides across the square.   But for the most part, at least for now, they remain united in opposing the military.  

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs