Egypt’s Islamists lead Tahrir Square protests

July 30th, 2011 - 1:09 am ICT by BNO News  

CAIRO (BNO NEWS) — Hundreds of thousands of Islamists on Friday gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to participate in the “Friday of Unity” protests, Ahram Online reported.

Protesters chanted Islamic slogans such as “Islamic state, Islamic state” and “What has Allah done to you so you reject his Shariaa (Islamic) Law”, while others raised flags with “There is no God but Allah” written on them. Security forces were stationed at every entrance to secure Tahrir square by searching all protesters and checking their identity cards.

Secular activists were not pleased with the overwhelming presence of Islamists, saying that they have violated the agreement reached with non-Islamic groups for unity. Youth organizations such as the 6 April Movement and the Revolution Youth Coalition have been organizing the Friday protests in the past months, but a few weeks ago Islamist groups joined the protests to defend what they call the ‘Islamic identity of the nation’.

After negotiations, however, 21 political forces and Islamists agreed to join forces to seek common demands. Now, political forces believe that the Islamists have violated the terms of the agreement.

Twenty-eight political movements and parties, including the 6 April Movement and the Revolution Youth Coalition, held a press conference after midday prayers and stated that they will continue the sit-in they began in Tahrir Square on July 8. The group said they will not participate in today’s mass protests.

Thousands of Salafists and other Islamists also gathered in Alexandria, which was expected to witness the largest ever nationwide gathering of Islamists. They called on Egyptian authorities to “respect the will of the people, which was reflected in the referendum on the constitutional amendments.”

Islamists pushed for a “Yes” vote to pass the amendments to the constitution months ago since they fear that any future amendments may change Egypt’s religious status to secular.

The assistant to the minister of health, Adel Adawy, said that about 265 protesters fell sick due to the hot weather. He said that the dense crowds have led to several cases of suffocation, fainting, low blood pressure and low blood sugar levels.

The 6 April Movement, the Union of Revolution Youth and other revolutionary groups have been organizing demonstrations to protest that the demands of the revolution have not been met. They have also shown their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s newly reshuffled cabinet.

The groups rejected the new law proposed by Sharaf and the ruling military council to regulate parliamentary elections, as well as the steps which both have taken to address the grievances of families of those killed during the January 2011 uprising. They are also reiterating their previous calls for the nullification of Sharaf’s law which criminalizes certain demonstrations and strikes.

Sharaf reshuffled 14 posts in his interim Cabinet last week, hoping to quell protesters. They, however, were not satisfied with the reshuffle since some of the ministers who stayed are those they wanted out for alleged links to the Mubarak regime.

According to Amnesty International, at least 840 people were killed and over 6,000 people were injured in the violent repression that took place during the January uprising.

Ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt in a 30-year-long regime, stepped down after the uprising. Mubarak will stand trial for corruption and murder charges on August 3, along his sons, Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem.

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