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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora