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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs