Egyptians demand expulsion of Syrian ambassador

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CAIRO: Hundreds of Egyptians gathered in front of the Syrian Embassy in Cairo calling for the immediate discharge of the Syrian ambassador from Egypt.

A march began at Omar Makram Mosque in Tahrir Square after Friday prayers and headed to the Syrian Embassy in Garden City.

The protesters at the embassy mainly belonged to the ultraconservative Al-Nour and Al-Assala parties.

"We have sent a number of complaints and PA interpellations regarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ lack of action in the Syrian issue," said Al-Nour MP Mamdouh Ismail, addressing the protesters.

"We are also calling for ending all relations with the Syrian People’s Assembly," he added.

"The least we can do is recall our ambassador from there and expel their ambassador. We are calling for jihad; the only solution for what’s happening over there is for the resistance to be armed," said Samah Helal, head of the women’s committee in the Salafi Al-Nour Party.

"We Salafis believe in jihad in the name of God, because what’s going on over there is a fierce attack by the Alawites on the Sunnis so the people of Syria must be armed," she said.

In tears, Helal said she was deeply moved by the call from a "Syrian Muslim sister" who urged the Muslim world to interfere, adding that if they don’t come to help, then they should send birth control pills, to protect them from the consequences of alleged rape committed by Bashar Al-Assad’s forces.

Egypt is an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country, and the largest religious community in Syria is also Sunni.
Echoing the demonstrators’ calls, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates the new Egyptian parliament, also called for the "expulsion of the Syrian ambassador in Cairo and the recall of the Egyptian ambassador in Damascus."

An FJP statement also called on the government to "recognize the Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and to provide it with all kinds of aid."

Unlike several Gulf nations, Egypt has not downgraded its diplomatic relations with Syria, angering many Egyptians.
Friday’s rally was the largest anti-Assad protest in Cairo since the Syrian uprising began 11 months ago. A few hundred protesters stormed the Syrian Embassy in Cairo last month.

The protesters also chanted "Field Marshal, why are you silent, are you blind or what?" addressing Egypt’s military ruler Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

"The marches and protests today are a message to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that they must dismiss the ambassador now; this is the least we can do in solidarity with the Syrian people," said Abdel Rahman Khalil from the youth-dominated Al-Tayyar Al-Masry Party, a spin-off from the Muslim Brotherhood group.

"SCAF needs to do that in order to improve its image [in the eyes of] Egyptians," he added.

While Khalil’s party and other participating movements were demanding the expulsion of the ambassador, the Salafi Front protesters called for a sit-in until their demands are met.

Gamal Abdel Nasser Mahmoud, an independent protester, supported the call for jihad.

"This is like Libya; the people need to be armed. It’s the only way to end the violence," he said.

Ehab El Sawy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who lost his brother during the Jan. 25 uprising, said, "I know what it means to lose someone for the call for freedom so I demand that we take fierce and immediate steps to end the violence there."



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