Islamists protest across Egypt

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By Marwa Al-A’asar

CAIRO: Tens of thousands of members of Islamist movements protested nationwide on Friday parallel to a major demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square dubbed “Friday of Unity.”

Islamists outnumbered members of other political groups, many of whom retreated after they objected to the slogans they chanted.

In Alexandria, thousands, mainly Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members, protested outside El-Qaed Ibrahim mosque in the downtown area.

The protesters demanded faster trials for ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family, former corrupt officials and the policemen accused of using live ammunition to kill peaceful protesters during the January 25 uprising that toppled the regime.

Meanwhile dozens belonging to other political forces continued an open sit-in in Saad Zaghloul Square that started earlier this month.

“Many activists who didn’t agree with El-Qaed Ibrahim protesters joined Saad Zaghloul sit-in and left El-Qaed Ibrahim to the Islamists,” said member of the Popular Committees for Protecting the Revolution in Alexandria, Ahmed El-Masry.

“Others retreated completely including myself … after Islamists kept calling for holding elections before drafting the constitution and rejected the idea of supra-constitutional principles,” El-Masry told Daily News Egypt.

Popular committees of Islamist protesters secured the entrances and exits of the area surrounding El-Qaed Ibrahim mosque, where protesters chanted for the preserving the Islamic identity of the state.

They further called on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to set a timeline for handing over the country to a civilian authority.

Sheikh Ahmed El-Mehalawy gave the Friday sermon during which he urged demonstrators to maintain consensus, ignore differences and make it a day of unity that embraces all points of view.

In another development, the Suez Revolution Coalition and other political forces decided late on Thursday not to join the protest held in the city’s main El-Arbaein square to object to what they described as the “unacceptable practices of Islamists.”

“We decided to retreat because Islamists were not committed to the agreement we made earlier about holding a day of unity … adopting slogans and holding banners that advocate a religious state,” coalition member Ahmed Abdel-Gawad told DNE.

“Sermons were also given by some of them at mosques all over the city that called for implementing Sharia and naming the day “Sharia First,'” he said.

Thousands of Islamists protested following the Friday prayers in El-Arbaein. “Raise your had high, you are a Muslim,” they chanted.

“The people want to apply Sharia,” others said.

Over the past few days, Islamists were seen distributing leaflets to worshipers across the city calling for an Islamic state and denouncing liberals and secularists.

In the North Sinia capital of El-Arish, hundreds protested in El-Horriya square outside El-Refa’y mosque downtown. The demonstrators, mainly Islamists belonging to different movements and groups, chanted slogans about preserving Egypt’s Muslim identity.

Others held up copies of the Holy Quran to support their call for implementing Islamic law.

Over 25 buses in addition to private cars, minibuses and taxies had earlier left to Tahrir to join the major protest there. –Additional reporting by Hatem El-Buluk from El-Arish.


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